Sunday, January 9, 2011

Small Leak Shuts Down Oil Pipeline in Alaska (NYTimes)

HOUSTON — A small oil leak at a pumping station has shut down the Trans Alaska Pipeline System, which could lead to higher oil and gasoline prices in the short term and deliver a new blow to the reputation and fortunes of the British oil giant BP.


A blog about energy and the environment.
Officials said they had not determined the cause or full extent of the leak in a pipe that connects a huge storage tank to a pump that pushes oil down the pipeline. In all, the 800-mile pipeline system carries about 10 percent of the oil produced domestically.
The Alyeska Pipeline Service Company, the pipeline operator, reported that there was little or no environmental damage from the leak, which was discovered on Saturday morning. Only about 10 barrels of spilled oil were recovered from the basement of a pumping station, but Alyeska officials said they could not say how long it would take before the piping was secure enough to increase pressure down the pipeline.
“The significance is having to shut the pipeline system down,” said Michelle Egan, an Alyeska spokeswoman. “We want to make sure we can restart the line safely and without any damage.”

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