Global Processing

BP shuts down largest U.S. oil field

August 7, 2006

Oil company BP scrambled Monday to assess suspected pipeline corrosion that will shut down shipments from the nation''s biggest oilfield, removing about 8 percent of daily U.S. crude production and driving oil prices sharply higher, the Associated Press reports. BP, which is already facing a criminal investigation over a large spill in March at the same Prudhoe Bay oilfield, said it did not know how long the field would be offline. While BP suspects corrosion in both damaged lines, it can''t say for sure until further tests are complete. Workers also found a small spill of about 4 to 5 barrels, which has been contained and is being cleaned up, BP said. Once the field is shut down, BP said oil production will be reduced by 400,000 barrels a day, which is close to 8 percent of U.S. oil production or about 2.6 percent of U.S. supply including imports, according to data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration. The shutdown comes six months after the North Slope''s biggest ever oil spill was discovered on a Prudhoe Bay transit line. Some 267,000 gallons of oil spilled. BP installed a bypass on that line in April with plans to replace the pipe. Only one of BP''s three transit lines is now operating.