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Trans-Alaska pipeline reopened

Jan. 12, 2011 at 9:11 AM

ANCHORAGE, Alaska, Jan. 12 (UPI) -- The temporary restart of the Trans-Alaska oil pipeline system means difficult cold-weather work won't be needed, the pipeline company said.

Alyeska Pipeline Service Co. shut down the major crude oil artery last weekend after workers found oil collected in the basement of a pump station.

The pipeline carries about 630,000 barrels of crude oil per day typically. The shutdown idled more than 10 percent of the U.S. crude output when Alyeska asked British energy company BP to cut supplies to the 800-mile pipeline.

Alyeska announced that it received regulatory approval to restart the pipeline on an interim basis while workers build a bypass at the pump station where the leak occurred.

The interim restart will prevent oil from freezing in the pipeline. Alyeska said the restart means it won't have to conduct a cold-restart later and avoids problems associated with frozen pipelines and crude oil.

"And it also allows North Slope producers to increase production, which will help mitigate freeze concerns on the North Slope," the company said in a statement.

Oil and gasoline prices increased after the closure of the Alaskan oil pipeline. The bypass could be finished as early as this week.

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