Since the 2009 eruption of Mount Redoubt, Kenai Peninsula residents have been acutely aware the potential consequences of a future eruption at the Drift River oil tank facility.
While industry officials are quick to point out that the facility has never had a major incident or spill as a result of its proximity to an active volcano, others are as quick to mention the consequences that could come from one.
The oil business that our area has greatly benefitted from has always come with risks. We expect any company that explores or produces in the region to mitigate those risks by meeting or exceeding regulations and safety practices.
Cook Inlet oil production runs like a machine itself and Drift River has been an important cog in the machine as oil is moved from production facilities on the west side of the inlet to processing facilities on the east side.
This week, however, Cook Inlet Energy made official its plan to build a $50 million pipeline that, if approved and constructed, would add another option for oil transportation.
Currently, Cook Inlet Energy and Hilcorp use the Drift River facility, and Hilcorp has invested $18.5 million in improving the berm that protects the storage tanks from potential volcanic mud flows.
But if Cook Inlet oil production picks up as many of the smaller independent companies coming the area would like, a pipeline would be another economic option over the long haul.
A 90,000-barrel per day pipeline would also act as a conduit to activity in the area, we’d expect. We have seen plenty of new investment in the inlet, but current infrastructure may fall short of future needs. A trans-Foreland pipeline would be one more reason to invest in the area.