Earthquake interrupted oil and gas
operations; no damage reported
responses to the major earthquake in Southcentral Alaska on Nov. 30 demonstrating the level of preparedness and resilience in Alaska to an event of this magnitude, impacts on energy industries and energy supplies appear to have been mainly local rather than systemic.
Hilcorp: temporary shutdownHilcorp Alaska, which operates much of the oil and gas infrastructure in the Cook Inlet region reported no damage to its facilities as a consequence of the earthquake. Hilcorp spokeswoman Lori Nelson told Petroleum News in a Dec. 3 email that there had been no spills or injuries. Following the earthquake, Hilcorp immediately activated its post-earthquake procedures, including the temporary shutting in of some operations and the inspection of facilities, Nelson said. Once inspections had been completed, normal operations resumed.
“Our focus was to ensure the safety of all our employees as we worked to assess the impact,” Nelson said.
TAPS shut down for inspectionAlthough the trans-Alaska pipeline, the oil artery from the North Slope, lies at a considerable distance from the earthquake’s epicenter near Anchorage, Alyeska Pipeline Service Co. took the precaution of shutting the line down immediately after the earthquake occurred.
Workers conducted ground and air surveillance of the line and its facilities from pump station 9 near Delta Junction, south to the Valdez Marine Terminal. No problems were found and the line was restarted at 3:30 p.m. on Nov. 30, about seven hours after the earthquake happened, Alyeska reported.
“We are thankful that everyone working on TAPS and at our workplaces across Alaska are safe following today’s earthquake,” said Tom Barrett, Alyeska president. “Through their hard work, resilience and safety focus, TAPS is online again. Our top priorities remain the safety of the people working on TAPS and the operational integrity of the pipeline.”
Power outages and gas leaksIn Anchorage and the Matanuska-Susitna Borough region there were multiple local power outages and a large number of reported gas leaks. However, the major systems do not appear to have been significantly impacted. And repair crews have responded promptly to reported problems.
Enstar Natural Gas Co. brought in extra staff to respond to the numerous reports it received about gas leaks, and work continues in dealing with these issues. However, the utility’s major gas transmission and distribution system was not damaged by the earthquake - Enstar was able to maintain its gas supply arrangements, Lindsay Hobson, Enstar communications manager, has told Petroleum News. The Cook Inlet Natural Gas Storage Alaska facility on the Kenai Peninsula was shut down briefly but was undamaged, Hobson said.
Transmission intertieThere was a media report of damage to the electrical transmission intertie between Southcentral Alaska and Fairbanks. However, the electric utilities and the Alaska Energy Authority have told Petroleum News that, although the power supply through the intertie has tripped at two different locations since the earthquake, there is no evidence linking these short-circuit incidents to the earthquake. Julie Hasquet, spokeswoman for Chugach Electric Association, told Petroleum News that, following the earthquake, the intertie was re-energized at 7:30 p.m. on Nov. 30, and that the two incidents were probably related to weather or vegetation. Because of inclement weather conditions it had not been possible to fly along the route of the intertie, to check for any damage.
Titan LNG plantThe Titan liquefied natural gas plant that produces LNG for utility gas supplies in central Fairbanks sits almost on top of the earthquake epicenter. Dan Britton, CEO of Interior Gas Utility, operator of the Titan plant, has told Petroleum News that the plant was not damaged by the earthquake. However, the plant was shut down for inspection for a few hours after the earthquake happened. The earthquake did severely damage Vine Road, a part of the route used by tanker trucks that carry LNG from the Titan plant to Fairbanks. However, the trucks have been able to re-route along the Knik Goose Bay Road, Britton said.
- ALAN BAILEY