This action follows the August 6 decision to halt production from the eastern side of the Prudhoe Bay field following the discovery of unexpected corrosion in an oil transit line. BP Exploration Alaska, Inc. (BPXA) halted production to avert the potential for an oil spill. Earlier in the year, an estimated 5,000 barrels leaked from a pipeline in similar service on the western side of the field.
"This series of events has raised questions about BP's corrosion control program," Malone told members of the U.S. House of Representatives Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations. "While the team in Alaska believed they had an effective corrosion program, in retrospect, clearly there were gaps. For that reason, I have retained three of the foremost corrosion experts in the world to evaluate and make recommendations for improving the corrosion program in Alaska."
Malone said BPXA plans to spend over $550 million (net) over the next two years on integrity management in Alaska. The company has announced plans to completely replace 16 miles of oil transit pipeline which connect the Prudhoe Bay oil field to the Trans Alaska Pipeline System.
Malone also announced that he has asked former Federal District Court Judge Stanley Sporkin to undertake an independent review of all worker allegations that have been raised on the North Slope of Alaska since the acquisition of ARCO in 2000. Sporkin has agreed to serve as an independent ombudsman for BP America.
"These concerns will be reviewed to determine if the problems have been addressed and rectified," Malone said. BPXA is working to return the Prudhoe Bay oil field to full production as soon as the company is confident it can be done in a safe and environmentally responsible way.
The members of the independent corrosion panel are:
Dr. Digby D. Macdonald is Distinguished Professor of Materials Science and Engineering at the Pennsylvania State University in University Park, Pennsylvania. He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada, Fellow of the Royal Society of New Zealand (the "National Academies" of those countries), and is a Fellow of NACE International, the Electrochemical Society, ASM International, and the World Innovation Foundation. He has published about 700 papers in peer-reviewed journals or conference proceedings.
Dr. Joe H. Payer is Professor of Materials Science and Engineering and past Director of the Yeager Center for Electrochemical Sciences at Case Western Reserve University. He is a Fellow of ASM International and a Fellow and past president of the National Association of Corrosion Engineers. Currently, Dr. Payer provides technical input on corrosion and materials performance to the Office of Civilian Radioactive Waste Management (OCRWM), U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), and he is the Director of a DOE-sponsored multi-university research team to enhance the understanding and prediction of materials performance and corrosion for time periods of 10,000 years and beyond.
Mr. John K. Banyard, is a Chartered Civil Engineer and a Fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering. He serves on the Board of the Water Industry Commission for Scotland, the body responsible for economic regulation of Scottish Water. He is a past member of the Court of Cranfield University and is currently a Royal Academy of Engineering Visiting Professor at the University of Loughborough (UK). He also is a Member of External Advisory Board for the School of Civil Engineering at Nottingham University (UK), and presides as the Deputy Chairman of the W. Midlands Innovation & Technology Council.
On July 25, BP announced an acceleration of actions to improve the operational integrity and monitoring of its US businesses. The company said it would add a further $1 billion to the $6 billion already earmarked over the next four years to upgrade all aspects of safety at its US refineries and to repair and replace infield pipelines in Alaska.
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