State Authorities: BP Alaska Oil Spill Larger Than First Thought

HOUSTON (Dow Jones), Dec. 30, 2009

BP estimates that a breach at a well line in Alaska's Prudhoe Bay oilfield resulted in a spill of as much as 100 gallons of crude oil, more than the company had originally calculated.

In a report released late Tuesday, state authorities said that the London-based company estimated it could have spilled between 300 and 700 gallons of liquids, including crude oil and water produced from the oil well. BP told the Associated Press on Dec. 23 that it had estimated that three gallons of oil and 131 gallons of water had been released.

The reason for the spill, which occurred on Dec. 21, is still under investigation, the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation said in the report. A BP spokesman couldn't be reached for comment.

The updated estimate comes as federal and state authorities are also investigating a spill at a BP pipeline last month that released more than 1,000 barrels of crude onto the snow-covered tundra. That pipeline ruptured due to a buildup of ice within the line, BP and DEC said in a joint statement.

BP is still on three years' probation after pleading guilty in 2007 to a misdemeanor violation of the Clean Water Act, following two oil spills in 2006 that released more than 200,000 gallons of oil.

The company is also still battling civil lawsuits from the federal and state governments, related to the 2006 spills.

(Cassandra Sweet in San Francisco contributed to this story.)

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

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