As part of a continuing response to the eruption of Mount Redoubt on the west side of Alaskaís Cook Inlet, the Tesoro-chartered tanker Seabulk Arctic has offloaded 3.7 million gallons of crude oil from the two active storage tanks of the Drift River Marine Terminal at the base of the volcano. Following the offload of the oil, the tanker used its onboard pumps to inject 840,000 gallons of Cook Inlet seawater back into the tanks, to prevent the tanks becoming buoyant, were eruption-induced floodwaters from the nearby Drift River to inundate the terminal.
To date, a protective dike system built in 1990 has successfully protected the tank farm from flooding, and no oil has been spilled at the terminal.
The tanker arrived at 7 p.m. Sunday night to offload as much oil as possible and inject water into the tanks, U.S. Coast Guard Captain Mark Hamilton told a press conference at 1 p.m. today. The tanker is scheduled to depart Drift River this afternoon, to deliver the oil to the Tesoro refinery at Nikiski on the Kenai Peninsula, Hamilton said.
The unified command for the Drift River terminal response had originally planned to bring the Seabulk Arctic into the offshore loading berth at Drift River on Saturday, to offload oil from the terminal tank farm, drain down some oil from production facilities at the upstream end of the pipeline that delivers oil into the terminal, and maintain the possibility of continued Cook Inlet oil production if conditions permitted.
However, a violent explosive event at the volcano and an associated Drift River flood on Saturday morning delayed the arrival of the tanker. And the unified command decided to alter its strategy, opting for a full-scale, indefinite suspension of terminal operations and abandoning the plan to drain oil from the production facilities.
With terminal operations suspended, Chevron shut in its oil platforms on the west side of the Cook Inlet on Sunday, resulting in a loss of 7,500 barrels per day of oil production. Chevronís natural gas production on the west side of the Inlet has not been impacted, Chevron spokeswoman Roxanne Sinz told Petroleum News today.
See the full story in April 12 issue, available online at noon, Friday April 10 at www.PetroleumNews.com