MIRI: Safety checks are being carried out on the entire Sarawak-Sabah giant gas pipeline, which will trigger loud sounds that could be mistaken for explosions.
The safety checks at the interstate pipeline route, which spans 600km, are being carried out by national oil company Petronas.
Petronas has issued a circular telling villagers living along the route that the checks would involve releasing gas from valves along the pipe.
Sarawak Fire and Rescue Department has also received the circular from Petronas.
"The safety checks will see blowdowns of the pipe route that will involve the releasing of gas that could trigger loud sounds.
"Petronas will station extra workers along the route to ensure safety of the operation," said the circular.
The public were told not to panic if they heard sounds resembling an explosion during the safety checks.
The release of the gas will continue along the Miri to Bintulu portion of the pipeline until Nov 27.
From Nov 27 to Nov 31, the blowdown will be centred at the Bintulu section.
From Dec 2 to Dec 21, the safety operations will extend from the Lawas to Kimanis section of the pipeline that snakes through mountainous region of northern Sarawak into Sabah.
Petronas has issued a notice to inform all villages along the 600km pipe-route about the above dates.
The oil company had also issued notices to the relevant environment and safety agencies on the event.
There is a Petronas hotline number for villagers to call if they have any queries or concerns over the matter.
The notice urged those with queries to call 1-800 227 747.
On Jan 10 last year, there was a big gas eruption along the section of the giant pipeline near the Long Luping settlement located adjacent the Sarawak-Sabah border.
Luckily no villagers were hurt in that incident which happened late at night.
That was the second time in four years that the pipeline in the northern Sarawak side had erupted.
Petronas carried out a thorough recheck of the pipes after the incident.
Besides Long Luping, there are populated settlements in Long Semadoh, Long Sukang and the Lawas hinterland where the pipes connect to the Baram side then towards Miri and Bintulu.
The pipeline is to channel gas from Kimanis in interior Sabah to Bintulu port in northern Sarawak for processing and export.
The pipeline is a RM 4bil project by Petronas that started about 10 years ago.
On June 11, 2014, an explosion occurred in the hills of Lawas district when a leak happened at a section of the pipeline.
No one was injured in that 2014 explosion either but there was a big fire at the exploded area that could be seen 10km away.