Trans-Alaska pipeline shut down after bullet pierces line
The trans-Alaska oil pipeline was shut down at about 3 p.m. Oct. 4 after an Alyeska Pipeline Service Co. surveillance helicopter detected oil on the ground in the vicinity of milepost 400, about 15 miles north of pump station 7. Alyeska said the surveillance crew detected what appears to be a bullet hole in the pipe.
Alyeska said that crews were preparing to begin repairs in the early hours of Oct. 5.
Upon notification of the incident and a drop in pressure on the line, Alyeska's operations control center immediately began the process of shutting down the north end of the line. Oil was allowed to flow south through the line to reduce oil pressure. Response crews, heavy machinery and a special land spill strike team were dispatched to the scene.
The amount of oil spilled is unknown at this time, but Alyeska officials are characterizing it as significant. The oil sprayed about 75 feet out from the pipeline covering an area on the ground of about 75 square yards. Pressure inside the pipeline was approximately 525 pounds per square inch at the time of the incident, and Alyeska said it continued to be high just after midnight as crews prepared to begin repairs.
The Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation said Alyeska was responding in a defensive manner by blocking drainages between the Tolovana River and the spill site.
A suspect believed to be responsible for shooting the pipeline is in Alaska State Trooper custody.
Canada says ban on over-the-top pipeline restricts industry
The Canadian government is mounting a campaign of opposition to U.S. legislation blocking construction of an "over-the-top" gas pipeline.
Natural Resources Minister Ralph Goodale said the stance is consistent with his government's view that politicians should not meddle in the regulatory process.
Michael Kergin, Canada's ambassador to the United States, delivered a letter to the Bush administration last month to "express Canada's concern" over a U.S. House of Representatives amendment that would block an offshore pipeline from being built.
The letter, sent to U.S. Energy Secretary Spencer Abraham, argued all pipeline options "should be afforded equal, fair consideration," and said the industry should not be handcuffed "in its assessment of routing proposals."
Goodale described the U.S. legislative intervention as "completely inappropriate," viewing it as a "clear attempt to skew the process."
Hal Kvisle and Michael Phelps — the CEOs of TransCanada PipeLines and Westcoast Energy, the joint owners of Foothills Pipe Lines — objected to Kergin's letter.
"It appears to us to represent a significant policy change by Canada," they said in a letter to Canada's Foreign Affairs Minister John Manley. "We are extremely disappointed that Ambassador Kergin now seems to be signaling that Canada has shifted from its legal obligations (supporting the Alaska highway line) and is prepared to consider other routes for the movement of Alaska gas."
Pipeline maintenance drops ANS September production 6 percent
Two days of downtime on the trans-Alaska pipeline triggered a 5.9 percent drop in average Alaska North Slope liquids production for September, to an average of 917,538 barrels a day, down 5.9 percent from an average of 975,365 bpd in August.
The pipeline was shut down for scheduled maintenance on pump stations and valves Sept. 22-23. ANS production started to decline mid-month and was off sharply for those two days, averaging close to 550,000 bpd compared to averages of more than 950,000 bpd for most of the month.
The sharpest production drop was at Prudhoe Bay, where the September average was 454,821 bpd, down 10.46 percent from an August average of 507,937 bpd.
Alpine was the only field where production increased in September, averaging 96,971 bpd, up 10.26 percent from an August average of 87,951 bpd. Alpine set a new one-day production record of 103,854 bpd Sept. 25.
Kuparuk River had the smallest decrease, down 1.99 percent to an average of 208,184 bpd in September from an August average of 212,417 bpd.
Milne Point averaged 51,768 bpd in September, down 2.07 percent from an August average of 52,884 bpd.
Lisburne was down 6.91 percent with a September average of 74,368 bpd compared to an August average of 79,890 bpd.
Endicott averaged 31,426 bpd in September, down 8.4 percent from an August average of 34,306 bpd.
Cook Inlet production averaged 34,000 bpd in September, down 2.26 percent from an August average of 34,787 bpd and ANS natural gas liquids (included in Prudhoe Bay production) averaged 40,414 bpd in September, down 5.65 percent from an August average of 42,832 bpd.