Alyeska restarts TAPS while readying bypass for installation

Christopher E. Smith
OGJ Pipeline Editor

HOUSTON, Jan. 12 -- Alyeska Pipeline restarted the Trans Alaska Pipeline Jan. 11 following a 4-day shut down. The company’s operations control center began the start-up sequence of opening valves and bringing pumps on line at 7 p.m. local time.

Alyeska shut down the pipeline at 8:50 a.m. on Jan. 8 after crews discovered a leak into containment in the basement of a booster pump building at Pump Station 1. The restart is part of a multistep plan to restore pipeline operations. The pipeline will run at reduced rates for several days while a 157-ft bypass segment is staged for installation. Once staged, Alyeska will shut TAPS down again while crews complete the bypass project.

The restart will help increase temperatures in tanks and the pipeline, Alyeska explained, reducing the potential for wax in the oil to accumulate or for water in the oil to freeze. It also allows flowing oil to move a cleaning pig from its current location between Mileposts 419 and 420 to Pump Station 8. The pig could affect the pump station equipment if left in the pipeline too long in cold temperatures. With the pipeline operating again, crews can trap the pig between two valves in the mainline and route crude oil around through bypass piping, Alyeska said.

Alyeska said the restart solves three problems: It avoids a more complex cold restart process, it avoids additional problems that would occur if the pig were in the line when the pipeline begins to get too cold, and it allows North Slope producers to increase production, which will help mitigate freeze concerns on the North Slope.

Contact Christopher E. Smith at chriss@ogjonline.com.



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