North Slope workers killed on the job

Posted: Sunday, December 22, 2002

FAIRBANKS (AP) -- A North Slope worker was killed when he was struck by a plug that blew out of the 28-inch pipe he was working on, a BP Exploration (Alaska) Inc. spokesman said Saturday.

The man was identified as Rodney Roost, 55, of Soldotna.

Roost was working with two others when the accident occurred about 1:45 p.m. Saturday. The other workers sustained minor injuries.

''We're deeply saddened,'' said spokesman Daren Beaudo.

The accident occurred about six miles west of the Prudhoe Bay base camp. The three welders were recommissioning a water line that had been out of service, Beaudo said. They are union workers for the BP contractor Norcon, which is a subsidiary of the construction giant Veco Corp.

An investigation is under way to determine why there was enough pressure in the pipe to cause the plug to release, Beaudo said.

''Obviously there shouldn't have been enough pressure in that line to cause that plug to do what it did. That's going to be the focus of the investigation,'' he said.

Beaudo could not say what was the source of the pressure that forced the plug out.

Gas pressure caused another incident on the North Slope earlier this year. In August, a well ruptured, releasing a torrent of natural gas into the small metal building covering the wellhead and injuring a worker who was at the site to bleed off the pressure.

The gas uprooted flooring timbers and gravel in the wellhouse and sparked an explosion and fire. In that accident, Don Shugak, a veteran BP oil field operator, suffered burns and broken bones.

Later, BP shut down and tested about 150 oil wells. The tests did not reveal significant problems.

Shugak declined to comment on the latest incident, but said pressure is a major concern for workers on the Slope. The two incidents happened in different areas of the oil field.

The accident that injured Shugak happened at a well, with the rupture originating underground. Saturday's pressure incident happened at a processing area and concerned an aboveground pipe.

''Two totally different types of situations,'' Beaudo said.

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