Photo by Abrahm Lustgarten/ProPublica
A leak in the Trans Alaskan Pipeline System (TAPS) discovered over the weekend has halted most oil production on Alaska's North Slope. Roughly 10 barrels of spilled crude was found in a pump station basement, forcing operators to shut down production. That stoppage results in a 12% drop in daily U.S. oil production. TAPS is expected to resume production this week.
The relatively small leak raises large concerns, however. ProPublica reports that the leak is just the latest in a series of recurring problems receiving only temporary fixes. Unsurprisingly, BP is involved. From ProPublica's report:
BP, the pipeline company’s largest single owner, has called it a “significant event.”
BP is no stranger to pipeline problems in Alaska. We recently reported that a BP maintenance report in October found severe corrosion throughout its own system of pipelines, and workers had complained of “Band-Aid” solutions to long-running maintenance issues.
DOT's Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration does not need to approve TAPS repairs this week to get the pipeline restarted, but we'll be watching to see if regulators begin addressing what may be a looming safety concern.