From: Associated Press
Published December 18, 2006 12:00 AM

Feds Want More Information about BP Pipeline Replacement Plan at Prudhoe Bay

ANCHORAGE, Alaska — Federal regulators have ordered oil giant BP PLC to submit more details about its plans for replacing corroded pipelines at Prudhoe Bay, the nation's largest oil field.

The information sought will "determine the need for additional corrective action," regulators said in a Dec. 7 letter to Sandy Stash, vice president for regulatory compliance and ethics for BP Exploration (Alaska) Inc.

Since a major pipeline leak at Prudhoe in March, BP has been under orders from the U.S. Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration to better maintain key lines at the field. In August, subsequent leaks forced a partial shutdown of the field.

Congress passed legislation this month to toughen regulation of low-pressure oil transmission pipelines, such as those that leaked at Prudhoe. The problems at Prudhoe also are under scrutiny by federal criminal investigators.

This month, pipeline regulators want BP to provide detailed plans and a schedule for starting and finishing the pipeline replacement. Among other information, BP also must specify how it is inspecting connector pipelines installed to reroute oil that normally went through the transmission lines, some of which were shut down.

BP operates the field on behalf of itself and other owner companies including Exxon Mobil and ConocoPhillips. In recent weeks, production has approached 450,000 barrels a day, about the same level produced before the partial shutdown.

BP has been working with federal regulators and will turn over the requested information, company spokesman Daren Beaudo said Friday.

Plans call for replacing 16 miles of transmission pipelines that feed crude oil into the 800-mile trans-Alaska oil pipeline. Replacement is estimated to cost between $150 million and $200 million.

Source: Associated Press

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