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Trans-Alaska pipeline oil spill totals 5000 bbl

World Pipelines,

The oil spill from the Trans-Alaska pipeline last week is said to have totalled some 5000 barrels, making it the third-largest spill from this 800 mile pipeline.

Alyeska shut down the pipeline for 79 hours and 40 minutes after discovering the spill at Pump Station 9 near Delta Junction on Tuesday 25 May. The shutdown forced North Slope oil companies to slash production to 8% to prevent the limited oil-storage capacity near the oil fields from overfilling, while Alyeska dealt with the spill. For every day it was down, it disrupted about US$ 45 million in North Slope production and about US$ 13 million in state revenue.

It has been suggested that the lack of storage capacity at Pump Station 9 contributed to the spill. During a routine maintenance check, power went out, causing a valve to open and channel oil into a storage tank, which overflowed. Oil streamed into a secondary containment area. That containment area is lined with an impermeable liner and officials say no oil escaped from the area.

The pipeline has only previously had two spills larger than this one. In 1978, sabotage at Steele Creek caused about 670 000 gallons (16 000 bbl) to leak; and in 2001, a Livengood man shot the pipeline with a high-caliber rifle, causing 258 000 gallons (6143 bbl) to spill from the line before Alyeska secured a clamp over the hole.

The company restarted the pipeline on Friday 28 May. With the pipeline now restored to full operation, Alyeska has told North Slope producers to return to delivering oil at their normal rates.

The pipeline normally carries some 650 000 bbl/d, approximately 10% of US oil production.

The state DEC has said the cleanup of the spilled oil is well under way. A crew of about 125 people is on site continuing to manage the cleanup and restart.

Alyeska and the pipeline are owned by BP, Conoco Phillips, Exxon Mobil, Koch Industries and Chevron.

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