BP's plan to use pig on pipeline doesn't fly

Posted: Wednesday, August 21, 2002

This pig won't fly.

British Petroleum abandoned a plan to use a foam pipeline "pig" to clean out an abandoned undersea Cook Inlet oil pipeline after determining the pipe was too leaky.

The company began the operation Tuesday morning by pressurizing the line, which was abandoned in 1974, with air pumped from onshore.

Company spokesperson Paul Laird said that after about 15 minutes, an oil sheen was detected on the surface of the inlet, indicating the pipe was too leaky to proceed with the plan to send in the pig.

"We determined, along with (the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation) and the Coast Guard that there are leaks in the line, and we won't be able to repair them," Laird said.

Laird said several response vessels on hand for the operation contained the small amount of oil released into the Inlet.

"We had a bunch of (Cook Inlet Spill Prevention and Response Incorporated) vessels present to clean up any oil," Laird said.

Additionally, the operation was overseen by the DEC and the Coast Guard.

Since the line is too leaky, it would be impractical to send in the pig, Laird said.

A pig is a nontoxic foam and gel mixture used to squeeze residual oil from abandoned lines.

BP will now have to use a backup plan to get the remaining oil out of the line. Laird said BP plans to suck the remaining oil in the line, how much of which is unknown, out of high points in the line using vacuum trucks attached to the pipe.

Laird said the cost of the project is expected to be in the $3.5-to-$4 million range.

BP hopes to begin using the vacuum trucks on the abandoned line next week.

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