The disclosure Monday that the Prudhoe Bay pipelines, operated and maintained by BP, are severely corroded; comes as a good warning for not allowing the oil companies access to ANWR. The pipes need to be replaced immediately because BP “had gone 14 years without using a device called a “pig” to clean out its lines because it did not believe it was necessary.” The discovery was made as a result of “the U.S. Transportation Department ordered their inspection following a spill of up to 270,000 gallons in March. It was the biggest spill in North Slope history, and has become part of a criminal investigation into the company’s Alaskan operations.”
President of BP Alaska Exploration Inc., Steve Marshall said “the company believed ultrasonic testing of pipeline wall thickness was sufficient.” BP’s profits for the last quarter were $7.3 Billion. The Prudhoe Bay fields produce about 2.5 % of the company’s total.
The pipes were expected to last 25 years and are now at 29. Although some are in exellent condition, the company apparently did not take the full precautions for checking the aging lines. Thanks to the interference of the US Transportation Department (a government agency doing it’s job !!!) another major oil spill, and clean up, has probably been averted. BP will have to put some of those profits in to repair and maintenance instead of the stockholders portfolios.
Update: WaPo has more here on the situation. Aside from the fact the environmentalists have been citing the loose maintenance practices for many years, there is a classic example of the real dangers: “After noticing an oil spill on a deserted stretch of frozen road in Alaska’s North Slope in early March, workers needed three days to find the quarter-inch-wide hole in a pipeline, just where it dipped into a culvert to allow the caribou to pass.”
For those of us who witnessed up close the devastation of Prince William Sound by the Exxon Valdez, this is priceless .