UPDATE 5-BP pipeline leaks oily mixture onto Alaskan tundra

Mon Jul 18, 2011 6:39pm EDT

Related Topics

 * Oily water, methanol spill from ruptured pipeline
 * Comes as BP tries to rebuild public, investor confidence
 * 2,100-4,200 gallons spilled
 * 30,000 bpd field remains shut in
 * BP shares down
 (Adds details and background in paragraphs 4, 7-8)
 By Yereth Rosen and Tom Bergin
 ANCHORAGE/LONDON, July 18 (Reuters) - BP (BP.L) reported
yet another pipeline leak at its Alaskan oilfields, frustrating
the oil giant's attempts to rebuild its reputation after the
Gulf of Mexico oil spill.
 BP said on Monday that a pipeline at its 30,000
barrel-per-day Lisburne field, which is currently closed for
maintenance, ruptured during testing and spilled a mixture of
methanol and oily water onto the tundra.
 The London-based company has a long history of oil spills
at its Alaskan pipelines, including lines servicing Lisburne.
The accidents have hurt BP's public image in the United States,
where around 40 percent of its assets are based.
 The Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation said
the spill occurred on Saturday and amounted to 2,100 to 4,200
gallons, affecting 4,960 square feet of gravel pad and about
2,040 square feet of wet and aquatic tundra.
 Production from the entire Lisburne field remains shut off
while the spill is addressed, Alaska officials said.
 A BP spokesman said the cleanup was under way and the
company would determine the cause "in due course."
 Immediate efforts are focused on containment and cleanup,
said Tom DeRuyter, state on-scene coordinator for the
Department of Environmental Conservation. Cleanup must be
completed before the pipe section is excavated, he added.
  "BP has got a goal to have the investigation completed and
the line repaired by fall freeze-up," he said. "I do not
anticipate the cleanup will take that long."
 The pipeline will also have to be dug up to allow for an
investigation into why it failed, DeRuyter said.
 MAINTENANCE WORK
 Lisburne, managed as part of the Greater Prudhoe Bay Unit,
has produced no oil since June 18, according to Alaska Oil and
Gas Conservation Commission records, suggesting maintenance
work requiring a prolonged shutdown.
 Dawn Patience, BP Alaska spokeswoman, said there is not yet
an estimated time for the Lisburne field to be back in
production.
 "The planned maintenance is ongoing," she said, adding the
leak happened when BP was testing recently installed valves in
the piping.
 The affected pipeline is an eight-inch diameter line, and
the area that leaked runs underground beneath a road, according
to the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation.
 BP's blown out Macondo well caused the worst offshore oil
spill in U.S. history, spewing almost 5 million barrels of oil
into the Gulf and putting BP's future in the U.S. at risk.
 Previous problems including leaks from corroded pipelines
in Alaska and the fatal Texas City refinery blast in 2005 had
already earned the company a poor reputation for safety,
something analysts say it needs to address if it is to continue
to grow in North America.
 In 2009, a crack in a flow line that serves Lisburne
spilled around 46,000 gallons of a mixture of oil and water on
to the snowy tundra. BP in May agreed to pay a $25 million
civil penalty and spend $60 million on enhanced safety
measures, to settle a federal probe of a pipeline oil spill on
Alaska's North Slope in 2006.
 New York-listed shares in BP were down 0.2 percent, or 9
cents, to $44.20 per share in late afternoon trading.
 (Editing by David Gregorio)


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