The Department of Transportation said today that BP can continue to operate transit lines in western Prudhoe Bay as long as it strips insulation from the line and tests it.
The Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration said it has issued new orders to BP Exploration (Alaska) “requiring rigorous inspections of the company’s entire North Slope pipeline network.”
The orders also outline the safety criteria BP must meet before it can restart the downed line.
The agency said the new orders require BP to conduct four daily surveys of all its low-pressure lines on the North Slope, including the eastern operating line where the company halted operations Aug. 6 due to a leak and extensive pipeline corrosion.
PHMSA Administrator Admiral Thomas Barrett said the company would be required to use special heat-seeking infrared equipment to spot leaks and conduct visual walking, driving or flying surveys up and down the entire 22-mile length of the system.
BP is also directed to strip the insulation from its western operating line, which may continue to move oil, and conduct an ultrasonic test, using technology similar to a sonogram, to obtain a complete picture of the line’s conditions.
A series of diagnostic tests will be required before any return to service of the eastern line can be considered, including diagnostic tests and repair of any defects to strict federal standards.