Trans-Alaska pipeline leak shuts-in production from Prudhoe Bay

By Phaedra Friend Troy

Technicians are working to repair a leak that occurred on the Trans-Alaska pipeline system, also known as TAPS, that caused a crude oil spill, while North Slope producers have been prorated to 5 percent production.

A crude oil spill of nine to 10 barrels was discovered on Saturday, January 8, and Alyeska has been working to clean the spill since. The leak occurred from underground piping at Pump Station 1.

Engineers are working to develop a plan to leak-test the lines, as well as design options to circumvent the flow in order to restart the pipeline.

“We have a significant amount of resources, tools and personnel on site at Pump Station 1 responding to this event,” said Tom Barrett, Alyeska’s president. “Our goal is to engineer and implement a solution so that we can safely return the pipeline to service as quickly as possible.”

Oil Leak Has Significant Impact

According to Daily Finance, super-majors BP, ConocoPhillips and ExxonMobil have cut oil production from the Prudhoe Bay field in Alaska by 95 percent while the pipeline undergoes repairs.

An official timeline for the restart of Trans-Alaska pipeline has not been published, although The Wall Street Journal cites an unnamed source, saying that the system should be back up and running by Friday, January 14.

Spanning 800 miles to transport crude oil from Alaska’s North Slope to tankers in Valdez, the Trans-Alaska pipeline transports some 15 percent of US production.

On the news of the pipeline shut-down, the price of crude on the New York Mercantile Exchange jumped more than 2 percent to nearly $90.

Reuters reports that the outlook for US crude prices are up because of the pipeline incident and the accident that shut down Canadian Natural’s Horizon Oil Sands refinery near Alberta.

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