Burst flowline spills about 200 gallons of crude oil in Prudhoe Bay

Posted: Tuesday, July 10, 2001

ANCHORAGE (AP) -- An estimated 200 gallons of crude oil spurt out of a ruptured flowline from a Prudhoe Bay well over the weekend.

Officials with BP Exploration (Alaska) Inc. said Monday the rupture might have been caused by a flaw or corrosion in the line.

The spill occurred about 8:40 p.m. Saturday at Drill Site 1 in the eastern operating area, according to the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation. Tom DeRuyter, a DEC environmental specialist, said the flowline burst over a reserve pit, which caught most of the oil.

Wind spread a mist of oil over about 5 1/2 acres of tundra and ponds, DeRuyter said. Cleanup crews were using sorbent boom to collect the oil from the water and had started to burn a small section of the affected tundra but had to stop because of increasing winds, DeRuyter said.

BP spokesman Ronnie Chappell said the line burst after workers shut down a well in response to a request by Alyeska Pipeline Service Co. to temporarily reduce production to 50 percent. The shutdown increased pressure in the line leading to a manifold building, where the well valve was shut off, Chappell said. The affected well remained closed Monday, he said.

Alyeska spokesman Tim Woolston said Alyeska asked for the production slowdown when the pipeline was shut down as a precaution against a malfunction of communication equipment for remote gate valves. That problem has been fixed, Woolston said.

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