Trans-Alaska Pipeline up and running after tank fire the previous day

The Trans-Alaska Pipeline is back in operation following a tank fire that shut it down for 9 hours yesterday. Alyeska Pipeline Service Company spokeswoman Michelle Egan said workers at Pump Station 5 saw flames coming from a large crude oil storage tank at Pump Station 5 at the base of Atigun Pass in the Brooks Range around 2:20 Wednesday afternoon.

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Trans-Alaska Pipeline (Photo courtesy of the Department of Natural Resources)
Trans-Alaska Pipeline (Photo courtesy of the Department of Natural Resources)

“And they called in the incident to our operations control center where we evacuated the area and immediately shutdown the pipeline,” said Egan.

Egan said firefighters went in last night and extinguished the flames. She said no oil was spilled and the tank was taken off line. The pipeline re-started at reduced flow rate at 11:30 PM. Egan said operators have to be cautious ramping up throughput because Pump Station 5 provides pressure relief.

“Because we have the tank out of service we want to be operating at a lower flow rate until we can get crews on-site at each of the remote gate valves as a precaution,” Egan said. “In case we have to close valves ‘cause we don’t have that pressure release tank available to us.”

Egan said oil flow is expected to be increased today from about 400,000 barrels, to between 520-530,000 barrels a day. She said it’s unclear what caused the tank fire but a team has been assembled to investigate the incident.