David Donaldson, APRN – Juneau
Alyeska Pipeline Service Company’s new President Tom Barrett today told legislators that the biggest problem facing the TransAlaska Pipeline is the low volume of oil being shipped from the North Slope.
Designed to deliver up to two million barrels of oil per day, it is now carrying a little more than six hundred thousand barrels.
Barrett and members of his staff specifically addressed the most recent oil spill on the line that began January 8th.
Barrett, a former commander of the Coast Guard, says his Coast Guard experience has taught him to throw every tool available into responding to an emergency, and low oil flow is an emergency.
Betsy Haines, the Oil Movements Director for Alyeska, explained the effects of low volume in the line. She says TAPS was designed to handle warm oil and to carry that oil for shipment relatively quickly. But at current low flow rates, it is taking 15 days for oil to get from pump station one to the terminal at Valdez.
Barrett said the pipeline faces many risks in its daily operations – weather, environment, regulatory decisions. He says there are plans under way to prepare for them, but he refuses to gamble on them.
Barrett had been President of Alyeska one week when the January eighth oil spill occurred. He says the dedication of the company’s staff – their “grit” he called it – resolved further problems and got the line back in operation much quicker than originally anticipated.
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