From: Yereth Rosen, Reuters
Published February 3, 2006 12:00 AM

Tanker Runs Aground in Alaska, Spills Oil Products

ANCHORAGE, Alaska — An oil tanker carrying nearly 5 million gallons of oil and gasoline was struck by an ice floe while loading at an Alaska refinery and ran aground Thursday, causing a small spill, a state official and the refining company said.


The Coast Guard said an ice floe parted the mooring line and sent the 600-foot tanker adrift before it went aground about a half mile from the dock. The vessel's tanks were secure.


"Our captain of the port is on scene and he says that the hull is intact. So there's no product leaking from the vessel at this time," Coast Guard Petty Officer Gail Dale said.


The double-hulled tanker, the Seabulk Pride, was loading heavy vacuum gas oil and unleaded gasoline from the refinery in Nikiski, Alaska, on the Cook Inlet, refinery owner Tesoro Corp. said in a statement.


Ice conditions at the time of the accident were "extreme," with a lot of ice floating in the water, said Lynda Giguere of the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation.


When the mooring line broke, about 210 gallons of oil being loaded into the tanker fell onto the ship's deck and 80 gallons spilled into the water, the Coast Guard and Tesoro said.


The initial estimates by the Coast Guard said only 10 gallons of oil spilled into the water.


The tanker is owned and operated by Seabulk International Co., a subsidiary of Seacor Holdings Inc. and was chartered by Tesoro, whose executives said the tanker's owner hopes to float the vessel off the beach at high tide.


The tanker, which is also double-bottomed, was carrying nearly 4 million gallons of Vacuum Tower Bottom Blend, a residual, asphalt-like oil that is not refined at Tesoro's Nikiski facility.


It was was also carrying nearly a million gallons of bunker oil, gasoline, heavy vacuum gas oil and diesel fuel, the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation said.


In 1989, the Exxon Valdez supertanker grounded on a reef in Alaska's Prince William Sound, spilling about 11 million gallons of crude oil.


Shares of Tesoro, based in San Antonio, Texas, fell $3.40 to $66.61 and Seacor Holdings' stock fell $2.38 to $71.06 in afternoon New York Stock Exchange trade.


(Additional reporting by Randall Mikkelsen in Washington, Erwin Seba in Houston, Robert Gibbons in New York)


Source: Reuters


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