Key Alaskan Pipelines Suffer from Lack of Oversight

By Avni Patel

Aug 9, 2006 1:13pm

An investigation by has found there are no state or federal regulations that require BP Oil, or any other company, to monitor or protect against corrosion along key pipelines at the nation’s largest oil field. Earlier this week, the discovery of severely corroded pipeline forced the shutdown of BP’s operations at Alaska’s Prudhoe Bay. The lines carry eight percent of the domestic crude oil production. The shutdown has prompted members of Congress to call for more federal oversight. "The Department of Transportation needs to be given clear legal authority to implement minimum maintenance standards so these shutdowns can be avoided," said Congressman Ed Markey (D-MA), a senior member on the House Energy and Commerce committee. Alaskan officials say that while BP is not required to protect against corrosion for aboveground pipelines, it is required to protect underground flow lines. A state-commissioned review of BP’s practices in 2004 found that the corrosion program for those lines is "effective and exceeds common industry practice." Lydia Miner, an official with the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation, says the agency now finds it hard to agree with that statement.

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