Unocal has small oil spill at Dillon platform
Unocal had a small spill early this morning at its Dillon platform in Cook Inlet. The Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation said Unocal discovered the spill at 2:30 a.m. Source of the spill was a cracked fitting on the platform's power oil system — a component of the artificial lift system used to produce oil.
Unocal activated their response contractor, Cook Inlet Spill Prevention and Response Inc. The response vessel SeaBulk Montana was on scene at 6:30 a.m. Two 90 pound bags of viscous sweep were deployed but negligible oil was encountered. The response vessel Monarch and a 249-barrel oil barge also responded.
A pre-dawn over flight using an infrared camera detected oil eight miles south of the Dillon, but a mid-morning over flight of Cook Inlet between the Dillon platform and Kalgin Island indicated no observable oil or sheen.
DEC said Unocal reported a maximum of 55 barrels of crude oil released, based upon a worse case discharge rate of 0.5 barrels per minute.
Unocal spokesman Kevin Tabler told PNA that Unocal does not believe that 55 gallons of oil was spilled. Tabler said that a "worst case" calculation was done based on maximum pressure at the leak for the entire time from the previous inspection until the leak was found. But the drop in pressure was not enough to set off the sensor so the leak was not occurring at the pressure used to calculate the 55 barrels, and the duration is an unknown.
"We geared up for 55 barrels" — the absolute worst case — but only trace amounts were recovered and there was no visible sheen at daylight, Tabler said. The platform was expected to be back online this afternoon.
Alberta premier eager to jump start Arctic gas line
Alberta Premier Ralph Klein has urged major U.S. energy companies to seek early regulatory approval for a gas pipeline from the North Slope to the Lower 48.
Meeting in Houston today with senior officials of ExxonMobil Corp. and Conoco Inc., which is in the process of merging with Phillips Petroleum Co., Klein pledged Alberta will do whatever it can to remove regulatory roadblocks and clear the way for construction if the companies decide the project is financially viable.
A spokesman in Klein's office said the premier told the companies they can "always make their decisions on capital spending later. Now the first step is to say what route they're considering, who will intervene and what will be the issues we need to deal with."
Alberta Energy Minister Murray Smith, who is accompanying Klein, Canada's Prime Minister Jean Chretien and 140 business leaders on a trade mission to Texas, said Klein believes "decisions on northern pipelines (from the North Slope and Mackenzie Delta) are imminent.
"We want that gas to come through Alberta and we want the ability to process the gas in Alberta. There are compelling commercial and regulatory reasons why we can do that better than anybody else in the North American continent," said Smith.
Klein has argued Alberta is the most convenient route to ship gas from the Arctic to U.S. markets.
But he has also insisted Alberta, in return for providing a right of way, must be able to strip off some gas liquids to feed the province's petrochemicals industry.