Pipeline Temporarily Restarted to Prevent Freezing

Dan Bross, KUAC – Fairbanks

Oil began flowing down the Trans Alaska Pipeline again Tuesday night after an over 80 hour shut down caused by a leaky pipe.  Resumption of service comes due to fears about the line freezing up, and despite continued work to fix a leaky feeder pipe on the North Slope. Environmental Protection Agency spokesman Mark McIntyre says the response balances concerns.

The Alaska Pipeline carries more than 10 percent of U.S. crude oil production. The plan is to temporarily run the line at sub peak capacity, enough to warm up the oil and allow North Slope producers to ramp up production, averting freeze issues, while a fix for the leaky feeder line is in the works.  McIntyre says the pipeline is running at a 400,000 barrels a day rate, about 200,000 barrels short of normal. He says measures have been taken to handle the oil leak at Pump Station One so the pipeline can operate.

The pipeline will have to be shut down again in few days when a new pipe to bypass the leaking feeder line is ready.  This week’s shutdown was the second longest in the 33-year-old pipeline’s history.

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