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Breaking: Tesoro sizing up grounded tanker situation

Posted: Thursday, February 02, 2006

 

  The Seabulk Pride sits aground on the beach in Nikiski Thursday afternoon after an ice floe knocked it free from Tesoro's dock at about 5:25 a.m. The ship has about 5 million gallons of petroleum product on board. Photo by M. Scott Moon

The Seabulk Pride sits aground on the beach in Nikiski Thursday afternoon after an ice floe knocked it free from Tesoro's dock at about 5:25 a.m. The ship has about 5 million gallons of petroleum product on board.

Photo by M. Scott Moon

At 5:25 a.m. today an oil tanker, leased by Tesoro, was struck by an ice floe, broke loose of its moorings and grounded on the beach a half a mile north of the Kenai Pipeline dock in Nikiski.

In a press release sent out approximately four hours after the spill occurred, Tesoro said some product had been released, but it could not offer an estimate on how much was released.

According to Tesoro public affairs officers, however, Tesoro is still in the process of confirming whether any product spilled into Cook Inlet.

"We believe that some product spilled, but we are trying to confirm that," said Sarah Simpson, vice president of Corporate Communications for Tesoro.

Tesoro spokesperson Kip Knudson said unofficially "maybe a barrel or two" of petroleum product spilled when the tanker moved from the dock.

Heidi Peterson, also a spokesperson for Tesoro, said she only was aware of spilled product on the deck.

At the time of the grounding the double-haul tanker, named the Seabulk Pride, was carrying mostly Vacuum Tower Bottom Blend, a residual oil product that has a thick consistency, similar to asphalt. But when the tanker broke free of its moorings it was loading heavy vacuum gas oil.

Four members of the U.S. Coast Guard, including Cmdr. Mark DeVries, the highest ranking Coast Guard officer in Alaska, were on the scene this morning evaluating the best method for getting the vessel floating again.

High tide reached 23.4 feet at 7:14 this morning and was predicted to reach 21.6 feet by 7:29 p.m. Low tide is 1:36 p.m. today.

The Coast Guard was flying over the site in a chartered private helicopter, according to Chris Ellison, marine science technician at the Marine Safety Detachment in Kenai.

A Cook Inlet marine traffic chart on the wall at the detachment said the Seabulk Pride had been scheduled to arrive in Nikiski at 1 a.m. Monday and depart at 1 p.m. today.



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