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Prudhoe Bay 2006 Oil Spill

Oil had been leaking for five days from a corroded pipeline between facilities at Prudhoe Bay when a worker driving a deserted stretch of road in the Prudhoe Bay oil field noticed a strong petroleum odor and stopped to investigate. Between 1996 and 2004, exploration and production operations in the sprawling Prudhoe Bay complex resulted in an average of more than 500 reported oil spills annually, but this one was by far the biggest oil spill in nearly three decades of North Slope petroleum production. Failures of BP’s field pipeline corrosion monitoring and leak detection systems resulted in a thick layer of black crude oil that spread over the cold mantle of ice and snow, covering an area slightly larger than a football field. In the wake of the spill, previously quiescent government monitors are now requiring better maintenance to prevent future spills. (reference)

March 2, 2006

 An oil spill discovered at Prudhoe Bay (see map) field is the largest ever on Alaska's North Slope region, US officials say. They estimate that up to one million litres (267,000 gallons) of crude leaked from a corroded transit pipeline at the state's northern tip. (reference)

August 8, 2006

BP announced Monday it will replace miles of key pipelines across the giant Prudhoe Bay oil field, and executives admitted the company's program to find and prevent corrosion-caused leaks is seriously flawed. The announcements came a day after BP decided to shut down the nation's largest oil field, news that drove up crude oil and gasoline prices across the country and raised financial, supply and labor worries in Alaska.

November 30, 2007

A federal judge Thursday put BP on probation for three years and ordered it to pay $20 million in criminal penalties for last year's 201,000-gallon Prudhoe Bay oil spill.

Trans-Alaska pipeline

Trans-Alaska pipeline on supports aboveground

Trans-Alaska pipeline on supports aboveground (reference)

The trans-Alaska pipeline stretches from the northern settlement of Prudhoe Bay on the Arctic Ocean, across the Brooks, Alaska, and Chugach mountain ranges, to Port Valdez on the state's southern coast. Half of the 799-mile pipeline is buried and half rests on supports aboveground, to avoid permafrost melting that can lead to structural and environmental damage. Up to two million barrels of crude oil are pumped through the four-foot diameter pipeline daily, cooling from an average temperature of 49 degrees Celsius at Prudhoe Bay to about 21 degrees Celsius at Port Valdez.

Other corrosion accidents: Aloha, Bhopal, Carlsbad, Davis-Besse, Guadalajara, EL AL, Erika, F-16, FAC, Flixborough, Gaylord Chemical, Oil pipeline releases, Pitting of aircraft and helicopters, Prudhoe Bay, Silver bridge, Swimming Pool