Alaska Pipeline Restarts after Bypassing Leak

Wednesday, January 19, 2011 @ 05:01 PM gHale

After almost 60 hours of shutdown time to repair a leak, the Trans-Alaska pipeline is up and running again.

The Alyeska Pipeline Service Co. shut down the 800-mile pipeline to install a bypass pipe around the leak at Pump Station 1, where the pipeline starts on the North Slope.

The target goal in the first 24 hours was to bring the pipeline up to 500,000 barrels a day, said Michelle Egan, spokeswoman for Alyeska.

Before officials found the leak nine days ago at a pump-station booster pump, the pipeline was carrying about 630,000 barrels a day — or $55 million a day worth of oil.

Egan said crews completed work on a 157-foot bypass line to go around the leak, and began the process for restarting the pipeline shortly after 4 a.m. Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation said sealing and draining the pipe this weekend took longer than expected.

After they found the leak Jan. 8, Alyeska shut down the pipe for about 84 hours, and production at the more than two dozen oil fields was reduced 5 percent of normal, or about 30,000 barrels a day.

For the second shutdown this weekend, the oil fields were producing at a rate of 75,000 to 150,000 barrels a day, Alyeska said, with production flowing into storage tanks.

Alyeska said the original leak in the pump station basement stopped after Alyeska shut down the pipeline for the bypass this weekend.

As of Monday morning, Alyeska had recovered about 13,300 gallons of spilled oil from the building where the leak occurred. No one has found oil outside the building, the company said.

More than 600 people have been involved in responding to the leak, including 375 workers at Pump Station 1.

The North Slope oil fields account for about 11 percent of U.S. domestic production.

Oil companies BP, Conoco Phillips, Exxon Mobil, Koch Industries and Chevron own the pipeline, which runs from the oil fields to the tanker port at Valdez.

Map of Trans-Alaska Pipeline.

Map of Trans-Alaska Pipeline.

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