(Archived June 4, 2006)
April 9, 2006
As the attempt by drilling advocates to include drilling for oil in the Arctic In early April, press reports disclosed that a financial analyst on the Alyeska Pipeline Service Company's Trans-Alaska Pipeline System (TAPS) says he was asked to leave the company after he refused requests To provide inflated reports of how much the pipeline company spends on anti-corrosion measures. A few days later, in a separate incident, another press report disclosed that an Alyeska worker at the pipeline's Valdez Marine Terminal had falsified environmental compliance documents between 2001 and 2003. (See: Falsifying Documents?)
on April 6 Alyeska President Kevin Hostler sent a notice to all employees
telling them to plan for further delays in implementing the pipeline's
"strategic reconfiguration" makeover. Beset with problems, that
project trundles along, over budget and behind schedule. (See: TAPS
in Trouble.) Planned for completion by year-end 2005 when the project
was officially approved by the TAPS owners in March 2004, implementation
is now planned for 2007. (See:."Keeping
After the TAPS owners hiked 2006 tariffs (shipping charge) to $3.98 per barrel in December, the Regulatory Commission of Alaska (RCA) ordered the TAPS owners to cut their rates for the small portion of TAPS bound for in-state refineries (and therefore under RCA jurisdiction) to $1.96 per barrel (see RCA order). It was the third time since 2002 that the RCA had ruled that the pipeline owners were charging excessive tariffs (see Recent Articles on Trans-Alaska Pipeline Tariff Issues). On January 16, 2006. a state Superior Court order rejected the pipeline owners' challenge to the RCA's actions. Meanwhile, the TAPS owners continue to charge the higher tariff for most of the oil they ship, which is regulated by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC). Pipeline shippers Anadarko and Tesoro, as well as the state, have challenged the higher tarffs at FERC.
As cleanup workers in Arctic gear and protective suits work to control the environmental damage from he largest oil spill in the history of Alaska North Slope operations, sources who have visited the site say that BP's reputation may turn out to be the most serious casualty of that spill. According to national and international press accounts, the 3.1-mile pipeline between two production facilities at the Prudhoe Bay field had been leaking for at least five days when the spill was discovered by a BP worker March 2.
After the spill, BP officials termed the performance of their pipeline leak detection system "unacceptable" and emphasized how much money the company was spending on North Slope anti-corrosion measures. What BP officials didn't say was that the company had been resisting requests of regulators to upgrade the North Slope field pipeline leak detection system for years, and that the failure to recognize the extent of corrosion on that line demonstrates that their corrosion program had also failed. (See: report.)
In addition to investigation
of the recent spill, congressional offices and various at least two other
federal agencies are now investigating
past North Slope oil spills and other problems associated with North Slope
and TAPS operations.
[The Oil Patch]
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