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Cook Inlet oil back online: Cook Inlet Pipe Line Company, Chevron shoot for mid-August restart date

Posted: Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Cook Inlet Pipe Line Company announced Monday it plans to resume operations at its Drift River Terminal and Trading Bay facilities by mid- August, which have been shut down for several months due to the eruption at Mount Redoubt.

"The goal is to essentially bring production back online," said Casey Sullivan, spokesperson for MSI Communications, who was contracted by CIPL. "The goal also was not to rush it and do it right," he added, "and not cause any harm to the employees or the environment."

Though CPIL hopes to be in production by next month, it is subject to regulatory approval.

The company, too, anticipates the completion of modifications at both sites this month, which are necessary to restarting production.

Alterations are being made to above ground and below ground piping stations, metering stations and pumps, Sullivan said. He said the modifications will make for a smoother and more efficient operation. They will get production back online as soon as possible, Sullivan said.

"Completion of the modifications and resumption of pipeline operations will continue to be dependent on the status of volcanic eruption activity at Mount Redoubt," according to a CPIL written statement released Monday.

The company plans to transport oil stored at the Granite Point and Trading Bay facilities and ship it through CPIL's pipeline for direct delivery to tankers docked at its platform near Drift River. This will bypass the tanks at Drift River where crude oil storage operations remain suspended.

The current inventory of oil is approximately 90,000 barrels, according the Chevron, who said Monday it plans to restart its Cook Inlet oil production once Drift River Terminal, which is operated by CPIL, becomes operational. Chevron's Cook Inlet production has been shut down since April 4.

Chevron plans to resume production at the Trading Bay and Granite Point platforms, located on the west side of the inlet, following the removal of oil from the facilities' storage tanks. The tanks were filled to capacity prior to the shut-in.

"The current intent is to continue with the same shipping method after Cook Inlet oil production is restored," according to a Chevron written statement released Monday. "It is expected to involve two shipments per month."

Prior to the production shut-in, Chevron produced about 7,500 barrels of oil per day from the affected oil fields.

Since Redoubt's activity, CPIL has removed more than 85 percent of the crude oil stored at Drift River. On April 28, Chevron loaded 4.4 million gallons of crude oil and water at the Christy Lee platform onto the Mississippi Voyager vessel.

CPIL is also working to remove the remaining crude oil and water from its onshore storage tanks. This should be completed by mid August, but future plans for the storage facility is unknown.

"The storage situation is really still being evaluated," Sullivan said.

There was no damage to the tanks or spills due to Redoubt's eruption, Sullivan said.

"We're really pleased," he said. "It took everything Redoubt threw at it. Nobody got hurt, there was no spill."

CPIL did not lay off any direct employees during the hiatus, however, contractors were let go, Sullivan said. So far, 12 contractors have been added back.

"It's nice to see they've been adding the contractors back in," Sullivan said.

"(It) is great news for the residents of the Kenai Peninsula Borough, the state and our nation," said Borough Mayor Dave Carey in an e-mail. "The hundreds of jobs and community support by Chevron and other producers and processors are invaluable to the economic strength of the borough. The economic future for the Kenai Peninsula Borough is brighter because of today's announcement."

Mike Nesper can be reached at mike.nesper@peninsulaclarion.com.



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