Three men have been remanded in jail after being charged with hacking into Valero’s oil pipeline running under Pembrokeshire, and stealing thousands of litres of fuel.

Romanians Constantin Dumitrescu, aged 31, Iulian Neacsu, 21, and 36-year-old Nicolae Petre, are charged with digging down to the pipeline in the village of Martletwy in the early hours of November 1, and of breaking into the line and extracting 3,000 litres of diesel.

The trio are said to have used suction equipment to divert the diesel into huge containers before driving off. They were arrested the following day in north Wales.

A trial preparation hearing took place at Swansea crown court on December 19 in their absence. They have already entered pleas of not guilty to theft and causing criminal damage.

Georgina Buckley, prosecuting, said the stolen diesel was valued at £4,500. She said oil pressure alarms within the pipeline, which carries fuel from Valero’s Pembroke refinery to Manchester and the Midlands, had been triggered at 4.28am on November 1.

Judge Paul Thomas laid down April 24 as the start date for a four-day trial.

Barristers representing Dumitrescu and Petre, both of Allen Road, Northampton, and Neacsu, of Barking near London, applied for bail but their requests were refused.