BP shuts down pipeline, monitoring deficient
BP Exploration Alaska Inc. is beginning the shutdown process at the Prudhoe Bay oil field due to advanced corrosion. The loss could cut oil production by 400,000 barrels a day and seems likely to increase U.S. gas prices. Stunned BP executives admitted inadequate monitoring of the pipe’s condition even though technologies exist that could have warned of developing problems much earlier. Testing using a smart pig revealed 16 anomalies in 12 locations in the transit line on the eastern side of the field.
“We based our corrosion program in cooperation with agencies in what we thought was an adequate program,” said Bob Malone, chairman and president of BP America. “Clearly it is not. In replacing the lines, what we hope to do is enhance that program so that they can have cleaning pigs go through and then ultrasonic pigs go through, so that we can further enhance the program we have been using.”
Corrosion can be caused by water, gas, and sediments sticking to the walls of the transit lines. Within the last three months, the pipes had been completely cleaned, or pigged for BP to determine the condition of the line. Prior to that, the line had not been pigged since 1992. The current plan was lacking in surveillance, monitoring, and corrosion prevention, company officials suggested.
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For more information on BP’s response, click here .
— Lisa Sutor , Control Engineering , contributing editor