Processing Magazine

Alaska''s Prudhoe Bay oil output halted out by power outage

May 12, 2008
According to the Associated Press, oil production at Prudhoe Bay, the nation''s most prolific oil field, halted recently when a vehicle clearing snowdrifts damaged the power supply to processing centers.

Prudhoe Bay had been sending about 380,000 barrels of crude oil a day down the trans-Alaska oil pipeline, said Steve Rinehart, spokesman for field operator BP PLC. Rinehart said production would be "way down" and would ramp back up over the next several days.

BP''s Northstar field also went off-line as a result of the power outage. Northstar produces about 79,000 barrels of crude daily from a man-made island in the Beaufort Sea. All told, Alaska''s North Slope fields produce about 730,000 barrels each day.

With a blizzard hampering visibility, the operator of the frontloader struck a compressed air line at the central power station, Rinehart said. The line controls the power station''s fuel system. Seven plants shut down as a result.

Rinehart said the power supply has been re-energized, with four of the plants expected back online later. The company hopes to have the rest operating soon.

There were no injuries, and power supplies to workers'' camps and other facilities in the remote Arctic region were not interrupted.

State officials said BP had not reported any spills. They are relying on the company for periodic updates, according to Allison Iversen, coordinator of the state Petroleum Systems Integrity Office.