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PSHMA expresses concern over Hilcorp oil pipeline

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World Pipelines,

The Pipeline Safety and Hazardous Materials Administration (PSHMA), which is currently investigating an underwater pipeline that is leaking natural gas in Alaska's Cook Inlet, is set to extend its review to a Hilcorp-owned 8 in. oil pipeline that runs in parallel.

According to news sources, the federal agency stated the Hilcorp Alaska LLC (Hilcorp) oil pipeline is subject to the same stresses as the company’s 8 in. natural gas pipeline, thus requiring it to be inspected quickly.

According to, the threats to both pipelines include: vibration, excessive bending in pipe that is not supported by the sea bed, and contact with rocks.

In its proposed safety order, PSHMA called for inspection of the oil pipeline within 21 days of a final safety order. As reported by Peninsula Clarion, the proposed order calls for side-scan sonar “to find places where the pipe’s concrete is missing or the seabed beneath has eroded away, and inspecting those areas with divers.” The agency stated that if Hilcorp cannot complete the inspection, the oil pipeline must be shutdown. The company has 30 days to respond.

PHMSA claims that an oil leak could cause much more environmental damage than the current natural gas leak.

The leak in the natural gas pipeline was discovered over a month ago. On 3 March, the PHMSA issued an initial proposed safety order that required the gas line to be repaired by 1 May or be shutdown. However, due to hazardous ice conditions, the company has stated that repairs are unlikely to begin until later this month.

The oil pipeline is approximately 14 miles long and transports the crude oil onshore from four Hilcorp platforms in the Middle Ground Shoal Region of Cook Inlet. From an onshore facility, the crude is then piped to the Tesoro refinery. According to Hilcorp, the oil pipeline is showing no signs of damage.

Peninsula Clarion also claimed that PHMSA’s proposal also requires Hilcorp to revise its oil spill response plan by 1 November to account for “environmental barriers and restraints,” such as the ice that is currently stopping the company from repairing the gas leak.

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