Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Alyeska blunder leads to massive escape of natural gas in pig run

ANCHORAGE, Alaska - A massive release natural gas at Prudhoe Bay that
escaped into a trans-Alaska pipeline pump station could have destroyed the building and caused an extended shutdown of Alaska's North Slope oil fields, pipeline operators and investigators have determined in a preliminary inquiry.
The incident on Jan. 15 occurred as workers for BP PLC used pressurized natural gas to move a cleaning pig through a corroded 34-inch pipeline that was being prepared for decommission.
When the pig became stuck, a large volume of gas bypassed it and went to Pump Station 1.
The rush of natural gas overwhelmed systems before escaping out of storage tanks into the atmosphere.
An investigation by federal and state authorities is under way into the incident, a federal regulator said on Feb. 6.
Officials at Alyeska Pipeline Service Co., the company that operates the 800-mile pipeline, acknowledge that a fire or explosion could have endangered the station's 60-plus workers and caused a shutdown of oil fields.

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