BP's Alaskan Pipeline Leaks Hydrocarbons Near Prudhoe Bay

Prudhoe Bay, Alaska
(Click to Enlarge)

HOUSTON (Dow Jones), Nov. 30, 2009

An oil and gas pipeline operated by BP PLC spilled an undetermined amount of hydrocarbons near the company's Prudhoe Bay field in Alaska, state authorities said.

The spill, which came out of an 18-inch common line carrying a mixture of petroleum, produced water and natural gas, was discovered Sunday at 3:05 a.m. local time during a routine check, according to a report by the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation.

BP, which activated its spill response team shortly after discovering the incident, estimated that about 8,400 square feet of snow-covered tundra had been affected, according to the report. No spill has been observed in the Prudhoe Bay area, the report added.

The cause of the spill is unknown and is being investigated, the agency said.

In an emailed statement, a BP spokesman said that the line was not in operation at the time of the leak. The release of hydrocarbons "appears to have slowed to a very small rate," spokesman Daren Beaudo said. The spill material "is not spreading at this time."

In 2006, thousands of gallons of crude from BP's Prudhoe Bay operations leaked into Alaska's North Slope. Later that year, the company shut down a bulk of the oil output at the field following the discovery of corrosion in some pipelines. Prudhoe Bay is the largest oil field in the U.S. In 2007 the company was fined $20 million under the federal Clean Water Act. In September, BP paid $1.7 million to the state of Alaska due to violations to spill protection rules, according to the Anchorage Daily News. Alaskan authorities said BP had corrected most of the violations, the newspaper reported.

Copyright (c) 2009 Dow Jones & Company, Inc.


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