The newly operational Nikaitchuq unit spilled some 61 gallons of crude oil on Feb. 9 following an electronic malfunction at a new processing facility at Oliktok Point.
“The spill occurred after programmable logic circuits failed to respond to set points on high level switches, allowing crude oil to pass through process vessels into the flare,” the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation wrote in situation report on Feb. 14.
Italian major Eni Petroleum began oil production from Nikaitchuq on Jan. 30 and is currently operating in a “functional process startup condition,” according to DEC.
Eni estimates the incident caused some 55 gallons to spill outside a secondary containment and six gallons within the containment. The oil fell on snow-covered gravel, which spill responders removed using hand-tools and stockpiled on ice-covered liners.
The cleanup was 80 percent complete when DEC arrived and “control operators and technical contractors isolated the PLC anomaly and initiated the required changes.”