January 17, 2011
- The Trans Alaska Pipeline System resumed operations at 10:18 a.m. Work crews successfully completed the bypass pipeline leading from the booster pump building to the metering building at 3:40 a.m.
- The reintroduction of crude oil into the pump station piping system began at 5:50 a.m. By 4:00 p.m. the level of throughput in the pipeline had gradually increased to above 500,000 barrels a day, and the flow rate will continue to rise this evening until it reaches normal levels.
- With the assurance of pipeline flow to Valdez verified, at 2:50 p.m. APSC allowed North Slope producers to return to 100% production levels, after having been restricted to levels as low as 12%. Storage tanks at the pump station reached the 36-foot level before oil began to be reintroduced into the pipeline; the normal maximum operating level is 42 feet.
- FLIR overflights are planned to continue on a nightly basis.
- The Unified Command plans to stand down at 6:00 a.m. tomorrow morning, January 18. Alyeska's incident command system will remain in place until crude oil temperatures in the pipeline normalize. At the present time, there are more than 600 people responding to the incident, including 375 people at Pump Station 1.
- ADEC will assign a project manager to continue to actively manage the state's response and follow-up to this incident until the completion of all necessary oversight and investigation.
January 16, 2011
- Alyeska Pipeline Service Company (APSC) successfully shut down the pipeline at 12:07 AM on January 15. The shutdown was necessary for the installation of a bypass pipeline to circumvent the leaking booster pump discharge pipe and allow the restart of the oil flow down the pipeline. APSC expected the shutdown to last approximately 36 hours, but sealing and draining of the piping took longer than expected. The estimated restart time of the TAPS line is early tomorrow morning.
- APSC initially asked the North Slope producers to reduce their production rate to 24 % of normal, and later requested a further drop, down to 16% of normal production. The crude oil is directed into the two large storage tanks at Pump Station 1. At noon today, the level of oil in the tanks was at 25.5 feet; the maximum operating capacity level is approximately 42 feet for each tank, or just under 200,000 barrels.
- The shutdown of the pipeline stopped the flow of oil from the leak source within the booster pump building. Field monitors have not observed oil in any of three groundwater drainfield sumps, in the three newly-drilled monitoring holes, or during periodic visual checks of the pad surface and perimeter. The total recovery estimate from Pump Station 1 from when the leak was detected on Jan. 8 is approximately 317 barrels of oil, or 13,314 gallons.
- Overflights of the pipeline with forward-looking infrared (FLIR) imaging equipment occurred the night of January 14, but not the 15th due to scheduled 100-hour maintenance. Several reported FLIR thermal anomalies have turned out to be either natural water flows or moose bedding down near the pipeline. FLIR overflights will resume tonight.
January 14, 2011
- Alyeska Pipeline Service Company (APSC) is in the process of finalizing procedures for shutting down the TAPS and installing a bypass pipeline between booster pump 1 and the TAPS input piping in the metering building at Pump Station 1. The Unified Command has agreed that operation of the TAPS may continue until these preparations are complete.
- Shutdown is targeted for Friday night, January 14, dependent upon equipment arrival and preparatory progress. APSC estimates the shutdown will last 36 to 48 hours. The first shutdown, following the discovery of the leak, lasted 84 hours.
- Bypass pipeline materials are being fabricated in Fairbanks and flown to the North Slope for delivery at Pump Station 1. Workers at the pump station have removed snow and placed scaffolding along the bypass pipeline route in preparation for construction.
- Staging of cold restart equipment is complete at Pump Stations 3 and 5 and continues at other pump stations. ADEC personnel again visited pump stations and valve sites on January 13 to observe cold restart preparations.
- Following the initial spill cleanup on January 8, responders constructed a temporary containment tank in the basement of the booster pump building to collect leaking oil at the seep site. With the temporary TAPS restart shortly after 9:00 PM on January 11 (see Sitrep #4), oil began flowing again through the suspect booster pump discharge piping. Flow from the seep has appeared to remain steady since the restart, with response crews recovering approximately 11, 214 gallons (267 barrels) of oil from the tank, which will be re-injected into the TAPS line at a later date.
- At the time of the leak detection, two pipeline inspection/cleaning gauges (PIGs) were making their way down the pipeline. The restart of oil flow on January 11 has allowed the PIGs to move down the pipeline to locations suitable for their sequester: one at Pump Station 8; the other at the Valdez terminal. The oil in the pipeline cooled down during the 84-hour flow stoppage, and capturing the PIGs ensures that they cannot push along any subsequent ice or wax buildup, which could damage pump station equipment.
- Airborne crews have made several overflights of the entire pipeline with forward-looking infrared (FLIR) imaging equipment to look for thermal evidence of oil leaks; no actual or potential leak sites have been identified.
- More than 550 people across the state, including those from industry and federal and state agencies, are involved in the response to this incident. APSC will continue to prepare for the planned TAPS shutdown and for the contingency of a cold restart thereafter. Personnel will maintain oil recovery from the booster pump. Monitoring of soil gas probes around the booster pump building will be included in spill detection efforts as activity around the building permits.