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ANCHORAGE, Alaska -- BP Exploration Alaska Inc. has created a Web site -- http://usresponse.bp.com -- that details the progress of the Prudhoe Bay, Alaska oil field shutdown and the progress of improvements on the pipeline that spilled about 4 to 5 barrels of oil onto the surrounding area.
Visitors to the site can examine aerial and other photos from the spill site, along with photos of the flow stations between the spill. Background information is also available that outlines the oil companies' ownership of the Prudhoe Bay, production rates, BP's operations, performance and business activities in Alaska.
Recent updates to the site include a statement from Bob Malone, President of BP America Inc. and the transcript of the news conference that announced the oil spill and subsequent shutdown of the Prudhoe Bay region. Visitors can also submit questions to BP and register for email updates when information has been added to the site.
In a statement released yesterday on the Web site, Malone said "We have now taken the decision to replace the main oil transit lines at Prudhoe Bay. This will be accomplished as part of our overall plan for ensuring the integrity of the field."
Malone also announced that a study with state and federal regulators, including the State of Alaska, Department of Transportation and the Alyeska pipeline, has began to determine if it is possible to safely continue operations in parts of the field.
"BP has committed the human and financial resources to complete all of this work as safely and quickly as possible." Malone added "Our priorities moving forward are to assure the safety and integrity of our operating infrastructure, minimize impact on the environment, continue the cooperative working relationship with the relevant agencies and restore production as soon as it is safely -- and I reinforce safely -- possible."
The cost of the project is not known, although Malone said at the press conference "It is about 16 miles of transit lines. We are in the process now of engineering and looking at that. … where we can source the pipe from and how we can have that done in a safe and orderly fashion."
BP discovered 16 "anomalies" in 12 different locations late Friday when it was smart pigging the line between flow station two and flow station one. Those anomalies indicated a wall thickness loss of more than 70 percent. Once discovering the issue, BP started a detailed inspection of all 12 locations.
At one location, BP discovered insulation that had been contaminated with oil from the pipeline, although there was no leak. As a precaution, the company began the process of shutting down flow station two. As they continued the examination, they found a spill of four to five barrels -- with one barrel equaling 42 gallons -- in one location. BP reports on the site that the leak still continues at a rate of six gallons per minute, but while it is being contained and vacuum trucked away, the volume remains at four to five barrels.
As of press time, the date for the complete shutdown of the region and pipelines will take three to five days. The estimated time for the spill to be eliminated, the pipelines upgraded and operations to resume is not known yet.