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Chevron suspends production at Anna platform in Cook Inlet

Posted: Sunday, May 16, 2010

Chevron Corp. suspended crude oil production from its Anna platform in Cook Inlet April 30 after a federal agency refused to waive a rule to allow a corrosion-damaged pipe supporting the platform to be used. About 900 barrels of a day of oil was being produced by the platform.

The U.S. Pipeline and Hazardous Material Safety Administration didn't order Chevron to shut down the platform, but did not grant the waiver for continued use of the pipeline and warned the company it could be subject to penalties.

On receiving a letter from the agency, the company curtailed production from the platform until the pipe can be repaired. The company is working with federal regulators on a repair plan, Chevron spokeswoman Margaret Cooper said May 10.

There is no estimate for how long repairs will take or when production might be restarted at the platform.

The problem involved a 134-foot section of pipe installed when the Anna platform was built in 1967.

Tests by Chevron indicated the pipe has experienced a 60 percent loss of wall thickness due to corrosion, but the company felt that fluid pressure in the pipe was too low to put much pressure on the remaining steel.

Chevron had proposed continuing to use the pipe while monitoring until a repair can be accomplished. Pipeline and Hazardous Material Safety Administration rules require companies to repair pipelines that have lost more than 50 percent of wall thickness.

Following Anna's production suspension, nine platforms continue to produce about 10,000 barrels a day of oil in Cook Inlet. There are concerns over how long the production facilities and pipelines, many over 40 years old, can continue to operate.

All crude oil produced in the Inlet is sold to Tesoro for the company's refinery near Kenai, on the east side of Cook Inlet.

Tim Bradner can be reached at tim.bradner@alaskajournal.com.



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