The startup of the new electric pump system at pump station 9 of the trans-Alaska pipeline has started to bring to fruition the years of work involved in the strategic reconfiguration of the pipeline system.
“We have reached a major milestone in the last couple of days,” Curtis Thomas, spokesman for Alyeska Pipeline Service Co., the pipeline operator, told Petroleum News Feb. 14. The pump station is alternating operations between the old and new pumping systems, to make sure that everything is operating correctly — the new system should go into continuous operation later today or early tomorrow, Thomas said.
“So far everything is working exactly as planned and we’re very proud of this,” Thomas said.
Alyeska’s strategic reconfiguration is a modernization project to reduce infrastructure and simplify operations and maintenance by electrifying and automating control systems at Pump Stations 1, 3, 4 and 9. The new systems include electric pumps that replace the old turbine pumps and that will enable the pipeline to respond flexibly and efficiently to varying oil throughputs.
A 30 to 45-day testing period will follow startup of the electric pumps, Thomas said. That testing period will provide opportunities to make adjustment to the pump station operations and learn lessons to be applied to the conversion of other pump stations.
Then attention will switch to pump station 3, the next of the pump stations to be converted, although Alyeska does not have a specific timetable for the pump station 3 conversion.
“We’ll take our time and do it right, and do it to our specifications,” Thomas said.
Alyeska will convert pump stations 1 and 4 at some time after pump station 3. But the conversion of pump station 9 constitutes the first step in the conversion of the complete pipeline system.
“This is a great step for Alyeska and the state of Alaska,” Thomas said.