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LPC-LO3 Pipeline Spill

Incident Description

Spill discovered at approximately 3:05 AM, November 29, 2009 by the BPXA operator during a routine check. The spill was from an 18-inch three-phase common line carrying a mixture of crude oil, produced water, and natural gas. Total estimated volume of oily material released is 45,828 gallons (1,091 barrels); this is a preliminary figure only. The 18-inch line is no longer leaking product.

  • Ship Wreck Location:  Approximately 1.5 miles from the Lisburne Production Center (LPC) heading east along the Drill Site Line 3 (L03) and west of T3C, Prudhoe Bay, North Slope, Alaska.
  • Resources Affected:  An estimated 8,400 square-feet of snow-covered tundra with some contamination on the adjacent gravel road. Reports indicate that no product has reached the waters or shorelines of Prudhoe Bay. There are no reports of affected wildlife at this time.
  • Cause: A visual inspection of the pipe on Monday, December 7, identified a rupture as the source of the leak. According to cleanup officials, the rupture is approximately 24 inches lengthwise, located on the bottom of the pipe. The rupture is consistent with an overpressure scenario, linked to ice plugs forming inside the pipe. However, separate investigations by BP and the State of Alaska into the cause are ongoing.
  • Spill No. 09399933301

Spill Response Updates

Situation Update - December 17, 2009


  • Response crews have completed the bulk of the cleanup effort; officials have provided a 95% completion estimate.  The final night shift occurred December 16-17.
  • The Unified Command has stood down, marking the transition from an emergency response phase to a project phase.  ADEC continues to monitor the cleanup activities and waste management aspects of the cleanup project and investigate the cause and other aspects of the release.
  • Severe cold weather has halted cleanup efforts at times.  Workers continue to use jackhammers to remove frozen contaminated materials from beneath the pipeline.  Snow melting operations slowed down due to mechanical problems, but will continue until all contaminated snow has been liquefied and the oil-water mixture stored in a tank to await final volume recordings for oil content.
  • Oasis Environmental consultants continue to collect screening samples of the spill site.  The sampling has located a few spots that will require more mechanical operations to remove the remaining contamination.
  • ADEC has approved the confirmation sampling plan, which outlines how soil testing will confirm contaminants are properly removed in preparation for tundra rehabilitation next spring.
  • Work is almost complete on the ice road extension from the spill site to LO3; once finished, the ice road will provide alternative access to the pipeline from LPC to LO3.  High-powered “Scan-track” X-ray operations continue along the pipeline.

Future Plans and Recommendations:

  • Mechanical and manual cleanup operations to remove the contaminated material from hot spots will continue.  Snow melting operations will also continue.
  • Engineers are completing their review and risk assessment for the pipeline repair plan.  Repair parts are scheduled to arrive late next week.
  • With the transition to the cleanup project phase, ADEC staff are beginning to demobilize.  ADEC will maintain an appropriate field presence to monitor final cleanup, waste management, investigation, and pipeline repair operations.

Press Releases and Fact Sheets

Maps and Related Information

Technical Information



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November 30, 2009 Cleanup Operations

December 1, 2009 Cleanup Operations

December 2, 2009 Cleanup Operations

December 3, 2009 Cleanup Operations

December 4, 2009 Cleanup Operations

December 5, 2009 Cleanup Operations

December 6, 2009 Cleanup Operations

December 7, 2009 Cleanup Operations

December 8, 2009 Cleanup Operations

December 9, 2009 Cleanup Operations

December 10, 2009 Ruptured pipe

December 12, 2009 Trimming Operations

December 13, 2009 Trimming Operations

December 22, 2009 Cleanup Operations


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