Monday, December 28, 2009

Bad luck BP involved in yet another pipeline spill at Prudhoe Bay

ANCHORAGE - A new spill has occurred in the Prudhoe Bay oil field, the Department of Environmental Conservation said on Dec. 22.
The spill was discovered on Dec. 21 by a BP oil field operator doing a routine inspection at a drill site. It was coming from a six-inch pipeline carrying a mixture of oil, water and natural gas, officials said.
BP spokesman Steve Rinehart said the break occurred where the production line left the well house.
"That break triggered the automatic shut-off valve of the well," he said.
The force of the release destroyed the back of the well house and blew open its front doors. When the pipe separated, it misted the surrounding area.
DEC said about 12,000 square feet of the well's gravel pad was sprayed with oil, as well as an undetermined area of tundra.
The cause and amount of the spill were not immediately known.
Rinehart said it appears to be a small spill "because it happened and ended quickly."
A BP spill response team was sent on Dec. 21 to delineate the contaminated area, state officials said. Two DEC staff who were in Prudhoe Bay also have been sent to the well pad at Drill Site 6 to evaluate the spill.
BP operates the Prudhoe Bay oil field.
In November, one of the North Slope's biggest spills - 46,000 gallons of oil, water and natural gas - was reported at the Lisburne oil field, another BP-operated site. That spill occurred when an 18-inch pipeline split on Nov. 29.
Officials believe ice plugged up the Lisburne pipe and likely caused a two-foot-long rupture at the bottom of the pipe, allowing oil and water to spray out across a three-quarter acre of tundra. Most of the oil and water congealed in a large pile under the pipe

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