BP hit by Alaska oil pipe leak

City A.M. Reporter
BP discovered an oil and gas spill on a pipeline that serves the giant Prudhoe Bay oil fields in Alaska over the weekend, a company spokesman said yesterday.<br /><br />BP was assessing damages after it found the leak early on Sunday, a spokesman said. The line is one of dozens serving Prudhoe Bay, the biggest US oil field complex, whose output usually tops 400,000 barrels per day.<br /><br />Prudhoe output wasn&rsquo;t immediately affected, although BP may cut some production as it repairs the line or idles others that share a T-shaped pipe support infrastructure, the spokesman said. &ldquo;There may be some associated impact with neighbouring lines, but at this point there&rsquo;s no way to quantify that,&rdquo; he added.<br /><br />Trans-Alaska Pipeline System (TAPS), the major conduit for Alaskan crude, was unaffected and shipped nearly 700,000 barrels a day on Sunday. BP&rsquo;s spill occurred on an 18-inch common line carrying a mixture of crude, water and natural gas, Alaska&rsquo;s Department of Environmental Conservation said. <br /><br />The amount of crude spilled and the cause of the leak are under investigation. The line wasn&rsquo;t operating when the leak was found, although it still held oil and gas, BP said. The oil spill covered 8,400 square feet of snow-covered tundra, according to a situation report. The spill area wasn&rsquo;t expanding, BP said.<br /><br />In 2006, BP faced serious operational issues in Alaska, when it discovered extensive pipeline corrosion following an oil spill. That forced the British oil giant to temporarily cut much of Prudhoe Bay&rsquo;s output and later pay environmental fines.<br /><br />Analysts said BP&rsquo;s newest pipeline fixes may result in some reduction of Alaskan crude output.