Recent analyses of Cook Inlet’s oil pipeline system done by Cook Inlet Keeper show favorable trends, including a downturn in the rate of spills
The overall spill rate that was 1.1 releases per month between 1997 and 2001, but has fallen to about .5 releases per month today, said Keeper oil industry specialist Lois Epstein.
In a recent update of a 2002 study, she noted that XTO Energy, Tesoro and Kenai Pipe Line have had zero reported releases over the past three years.
While the spill rate is declining, an increasingly large percentage of what recent pipeline releases there have been are attributable to pipeline infrastructure failures, abandoned pipeline releases and frozen pipelines, Epstein said. That unfavorable trend, she said, was “probably because these pipeline release causes have not been a focus of preventive actions to date, unlike releases due to corrosion.”
Onshore pipeline systems accounted for the majority of spills between 1997 and 2001, 41 percent at Swanson River Field. Offshore pipelines had had a much cleaner record.
The general decline in the number of spills was “a good thing,” she said, adding, however, that there were gaps where industry has been paying attention to some problems, but not others.
What is needed, she said, was more emphasis on internal corrosion inspection and smart pigging where possible.
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