Royal Dutch Shell Group .com Rotating Header Image BP wins approval for partial operation in Prudhoe Bay

BEIJING, Aug. 11 (Xinhuanet) — BP Plc may continue to pump oil from the western part of its Prudhoe Bay field in Alaska, though the Oil giant must conduct more rigorous tests of its pipelines, the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) said on Thursday.

A formal order issued late on Thursday by the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Pipeline Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) said that BP’s western line would be allowed to continue operating.

However, BP must conduct four daily surveys of all its low-pressure feeder lines at Prudhoe Bay using heat-seeking equipment to spot leaks and conducting visual surveys of the whole 22-mile transit line network, according to the DOT order.

That order means BP can continue pumping 120,000 barrels of Alaskan North Slope crude oil per day through the western line. That should ease the shock to the western USA, fed by the Prudhoe Bay oil field. The field is the biggest in the U.S. and can produce up to 400,000 barrels a day, or 8 percent of U.S. output.

London-based BP earlier this week said corrosion it found in its pipelines would force it to shut all of Prudhoe Bay. Alaska holds the second-biggest oil reserves in the U.S. after Texas, according to the Energy Information Agency.

However, BP reiterated it would decide only next week on whether the western part of the field, where corrosion was found to be less severe than in the eastern part, may be able to maintain production. The western part of Prudhoe Bay produces as much as 137,000 barrels of oil a day.

BP said it takes full responsibility for the lack of upkeep that led to the severe corrosion and shutdown.

The company expects the replacement of corroded pipelines at the Prudhoe Bay oil field cost about 100 million US dollars, a company source said Thursday, but the total cost to BP will probably be several times that figure.


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