July 26, 2011 / 1:40 AM / 9 years ago

Water-oil mixture spills at BP Alaska facility

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (Reuters) - A spill of about 200 gallons of an oil-water mixture has prompted a temporary shutdown of an oil-separation facility at the BP-operated Prudhoe Bay oil field, the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation reported on Monday.

The spilled material amounts to about 70 percent produced water and 30 percent crude oil, the department said in a statement. The material flowed into gravel-bermed, water-filled containment pits that encircle the flow station’s flares.

The spill was discovered on Thursday, but only made public on Monday. The cleanup launched in response required shutdown of the facility, known as Flow Station 2, the Department of Environmental Conservation said. The shutdown is expected to last for at least another four days, the department said.

The facility is one of three flow stations on the eastern operating area of Prudhoe Bay. The flow stations, along with the three gathering stations on the western side of Prudhoe Bay, separate the crude oil, gas and water that are pumped out of wells.

A BP spokesman said there will be a small reduction in overall field output, but that it will be difficult to quantify. “We expect that there will be some minor short-term impact here. But production impacts are going to be minimal due to other ongoing maintenance activities,” BP spokesman Steve Rinehart said.

Several facilities are undergoing annual maintenance in the brief North Slope summer, he said. “This is the time of year when facilities are going off-line and coming on-line all summer,” he said.

Total North Slope production has averaged 453,351 barrels per day so far in July, according to the Alaska Oil and Gas Conservation Commission. That is roughly 70 percent of normal winter production rates, according to state records.

Editing by Bill Rigby and Carol Bishopric

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