$10 Billion Alaska Stand Alone Pipeline Gains Key Federal Approval

Alaska Gasline Development Corp (AGDC) received the last major federal permit needed on March 4th for its proposed $10 billion Alaska Stand Alone Pipeline (ASAP) to supply natural gas to in-state consumers, the company said on Wednesday.

The ASAP is a 733-mile project designed to deliver gas from Alaska’s North Slope to customers in Fairbanks, Anchorage and other parts of the state.

ASAP is part of state-owned AGDC’s proposed $43.4 billion Alaska LNG project. It is designed to liquefy 3.5 billion cubic feet per day of gas for sale to customers in the Asia-Pacific region from a facility to be built in Nikiski on the Kenai Peninsula south of Anchorage, which includes an 807-mile pipeline.

“We see Alaska Stand Alone as a backup plan. We are mostly focused on Alaska LNG,” said AGDC spokesman Tim Fitzpatrick.

The company has planned to make a final investment decision to build the LNG project in early 2020 that would enable it to enter service in 2025, said AGDC in the past.


Alaska's New Governor Won’t Have a Say on $43 Billion Project Until It is Fully Examined

Alaska’s Governor Mike Dunleavy will “withhold judgement” on the $43 billion liquefied natural gas project until the “administration can fully understand the costs, risks, and potential benefits.”

The 800-mile pipeline will move North Slope gas to Nikiski at a plant that would liquefy it for shipment. Sales will be mostly targeted to buyers in the Asia market.

Dunleavy is the third governor to oversee the project which launched in 2012.

An approval for the project is not expected until February 2020.

Houston Chron

Alyeska Pipeline Announces Workforce Cuts

Alyeska Pipeline Service Company plan to cut 10 percent of the pipeline’s workforce. The announcement was made in a letter sent to the governor and Alaskan lawmakers.

According to the letter, APSC will realign into three divisions including Operations and Maintenance, Engineering and Risk, and Chief Financial Officers.

 APSC President Tom Barrett says jobs at all levels of the organization will be impacted as the overall size of the workforce shrinks in Anchorage, Fairbanks, Valdez, and field locations. Barrett wrote,” Many jobs will be modified, and some eliminated, at Alyeska and in some contractor companies.”

“This will have negative impacts for some individuals and create new opportunities for others,” Barrett continued.

Alyeska says they plan to notify all employees affected by the cuts in early November.


Regulators Investigate Oil Discovered in Soil at Old Alaskan Spill Site

Alaska regulators are investigating crude oil discovered along a buried section of the Trans-Alaska pipeline north of Fairbanks.

Alyeska Pipeline Service Co. recovered 10 gallons (39 liters) of crude oil discovered on Sunday following an excavation at the site south of Atigun Pass, the Anchorage Daily news reported.

Crews inspecting a mainline valve discovered the oil in soil and an excavation at the site is continuing, said Alyeska Pipeline spokeswoman.

 "Engineering and field personnel are assessing the situation and developing plans to safely excavate the valve and to determine the cause of crude oil in the excavated area," the spokeswoman said on Tuesday.

An environmental program specialist with the state Department of Environmental Conservation said that the oil could have been overlooked from the 2013 oil release that occurred at the same site. 21 gallons (79 liters) were linked to the soil movement that occurs as tundra freezes and thaws, she added.

Although finding some oil traces were probable, the amount found by the inspection crew was more than expected.

"We're working through Alyeska to develop a cleanup plan, and to figure out if this is contamination left from the 2013 release or whether it is indicative of a new issue at the valve," the environmental program specialist concluded.

Houston Chronicle

China Linked to Hacking of Alaska State Government Over North Slope Natural Gas Pipeline

Cybersecurity experts believe that Chinese hackers targeted the Alaska state government during negations over a major natural gas pipeline.

In a report, experts stated that hackers based at Tsinghua University in China found a way to gain “illegitimate access” in the days prior to Alaska Governor's visit to China as he was leading a trade delegation in May. His trip was part of a longer-term effort to build a pipeline that would connect Alaska’s North Slope to the Chinese market.

Alaska’s North Slope is one of the world’s largest natural gas reserves and holds more than 200 trillion cubic feet of natural gas.

The firm "Recorded Future" disclosed that hackers scanned computers belonging to Alaska Communications, the state Department of Natural Resources, Alaska Power and Telephone, TelAlaska, and the governor’s office.

If the report is correct, China is using surveillance developed to monitor the Tibetan minority, an ethnic group native to Tibet, and repurposing it to target American interlocutors. 

“The spike in scanning activity at the conclusion of trade discussions on related topics indicates that the activity was likely an attempt to gain insight into the Alaskan perspective on the trip and strategic advantage in the post-visit negotiations,” Recorded Future assessed.

Washington Examiner
Miami Herald

800-Mile Trans-Alaska Pipeline to Experience Shutdowns in Summer for Maintenance

The 800-mile Trans-Alaska oil pipeline will shut down three times this summer for scheduled maintenance starting June 15, according to the pipeline system's operator.

Alyeska Pipeline Service Co said the three shutdowns along the pipeline that moves oil from the North Slope to the company's terminal in Valdez will allow for several maintenance tasks to happen at once.

The pipeline shutdowns should last between 12 and 18 hours and be complete after July 6.

President of Alyeska Pipeline Service Tom Barrett said in a statement that major maintenance on the line plays a critical role in sustaining the pipeline for the future.

The state could see an additional 800-mile LNG pipeline project in the coming years as Alaska Gasoline Development Corp works to get approval for a proposed natural gas pipeline from the North Slope for sale abroad.


800-Mile Alaska LNG Pipeline is Still Moving Forward, Says Project Head

The head of an 800-mile Alaska LNG pipeline project said he is done convincing skeptics that the project is legitimate and is moving forward despite pending approvals and other hurdles to clear.

Keith Meyer said this week in Anchorage at a public meeting of about 200 people that the project is real and that he is done "preaching" to those who doubt the project. He added that the state needs to be getting ready for the $43 billion project to begin.

Staff members of the Alaska Gasoline Development Corporation have been holding public meetings across Alaska to give information on the project as well as answer questions the public may have.

Alaska Gasoline Development Corporation has estimated that the project will create 12,000 jobs at peak construction.

The 42-inch LNG pipeline is designed to have a maximum daily capacity of 3.3 billion cubic feet and will transport natural gas from the North Slope to Southcentral Alaska.

Regulatory approval for the pipeline is still a couple years away.

Houston Chronicle

Alaska Governor Praises Proposed $43 Billion Gas Pipeline

Alaska Governor Bill Walker on Tuesday spoke in Anchorage about the benefits of a proposed major liquified natural gas project, saying it would create thousands of jobs and generate up to $2 billion a year in revenue for the state.

The pipeline is being pursued by the state with Chinese partners who signed an agreement this month in attempt to advance the $43 billion project that would move gas from the North Slope to Asia.

The agreement calls on the groups to explore by May 31 next year the feasibility of investing in the Alaska project as well as pursue terms to advance the project.

Walker said the agreement was a significant step for the pipeline project as it helped to build relationships with Chinese officials and got the project on the White House's radar.

The goal is to have construction begin in 2019 with the pipeline operational by 2024 or 2025, assuming the project clears the many hurdles still in its way, including regulatory reviews.

San Francisco Gate

Alaska Signs Major Pipeline Project Deal With China

The state of Alaska signed an agreement with interests from China that will attempt to advance Alaska's major natural gas pipeline project from the North Slope to Asia.

The agreement was signed Thursday with Sinopec, China Investment Corp, and the Bank of China, giving the approximately $43 billion project a jolt of life after major oil companies backed away from the project. It does not guarantee that the pipeline will be built, but it is a major step forward in the process.

All parties will work on various aspects of the project with a status check in 2018.  The goal is to have construction begin in 2019 with the pipeline operational by 2024 or 2025.

Alaska praises the step forward as the pipeline project could help bring economic certainty to the state amid declining oil production in the North Slope.

Houston Chronicle

Trump Administration Seeks to Increase Oil, Gas Development in Alaska

The Trump administration is seeking to increase oil and natural gas development in Alaska, including aiming to assess the amount of crude that could be under the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.

The U.S. Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke issued a directive that would rewrite a 2013 plan that limits oil and natural gas development in the National Petroleum Reserve in Alaska. Opponents of the 2013 plan say former President Obama was too restrictive and blocked the promising area for drilling, which also restricted the building of pipelines across the reserve.

Zinke said in a statement that the reserve was meant solely for oil and gas production and should not be off limits for such development.

Trump's administration is also considering rewriting law that would open parts of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge up for oil and gas development, a refuge that was established by Congress in 1980 to protect the 19-million-acre territory.

Zinke's directive aims to strike a balance between promoting development in the refuge while also protecting other resources. He said his effort would not override required environmental reviews.

Environmentalists who oppose Zinke's directive have been blocking drilling plans in the refuge for decades saying it would risk the habitats of polar bears, caribou, and other animals that live or travel through the area.


Divers Successfully Stop Spewing NatGas Pipeline in Alaska Cook Inlet

Divers have successfully placed a clamp on a hole in an underwater pipeline that has been spewing millions of cubic feet of natural gas into Alaska's Cook Inlet since mid-December.

The hole on the eight-inch pipeline owned by Hilcorp Alaska was discovered to be less than 0.5 square inches, and it took divers a total of 12 dives to locate, stabilize, and temporarily repair the affected section of pipe, according to Hilcorp.

A helicopter crew first discovered the leak in February when it spotted gas bubbles in the inlet from overhead. However, the analyses of the gas flow indicated that the leak started as early as mid-December.

Repairs could not immediately be made to the line due to severe weather conditions, such as strong tides and floating ice in the inlet. Hilcorp had said it would send divers to analyze the leak once weather conditions were safer.

Hilcorp reduced pressure on the line several times, however, to reduce the daily emitted natural gas to between 85,000 and 115,000 cubic feet per day, down from the initial 310,000 cubic feet per day.

Divers entered the water in early April, located the leak, and applied a "gas tight, liquid tight seal that will reinforce the pipeline," according to Hilcorp.

Hilcorp said it would not return the pipeline to regular service until given approval by state and federal regulators.


Divers Work to Repair NatGas Pipeline Leak in Alaska Cook Inlet

Repairs are finally underway for a pipeline that has been spilling hundreds of thousands of cubic feet of natural gas into Alaska’s Cook Inlet since mid-December.

Divers over the weekend discovered a two-inch hole at the bottom of the section of pipeline that rests on a boulder on the floor of the inlet.

The eight-inch pipeline, owned by Hilcorp Alaska, provided gas for power to four production platforms in the inlet.

Divers are working to install a temporary clamp on the line, which will be followed by a more permanent repair.

When the leak was first spotted in the inlet in January, weather conditions, such as floating ice, were too severe for divers to investigate the underwater line. Instead, Hilcorp reduced pressure in the line until divers could investigate.

Hilcorp could not shut off completely shut down the line, which once carried crude oil, because removing gas from the line could have allowed seawater to carry out residual oil into the inlet.

Environmental groups have said the natural gas leak is dangerous for wildlife in the inlet, including beluga whales, humpback whales, and salmon populations. Hilcorp contests there is no evidence of environmental damage from the leak.


Alaska Officials to Review Pipeline Regulations After Two Recent Spills in Alaska Waters

Alaska officials plan to review aging pipeline infrastructure in the state's Cook Inlet to learn how to better control operations after two recent oil and gas spills.

An eight-inch oil pipeline owned by Hilcorp Alaska that supplies two production platforms in the inlet leaked an unknown amount of oil into the water Saturday. The company removed all oil from the line by Sunday.

Although the amount is not yet known, the company says fewer than three gallons spilled into the inlet.

The discovered oil leak is the second spill in the inlet for Hilcorp Alaska. Another eight-inch pipeline continues to spew natural gas into the inlet since it began leaking in mid-December. Since the discovery, Hilcorp has reduced flow to the line several times to cut back the amount of natural gas spilling into the water.

The Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation plans to conduct a review on pipeline location, ownership, age, and inspection frequency in the inlet over the next year and may make regulatory changes based on its findings.

The inlet is home to an endangered population of beluga whale and other wildlife. Two environmental groups have given their 60-day's notice of intent to sue Hilcorp Alaska for violating several laws that protect the water and potentially affected wildlife.

Houston Chronicle

PHMSA Issues Safety Order to Hilcorp for Second Pipeline in Cook Inlet

PHMSA on Friday issued a second Notice of Proposed Safety Order to energy company Hilcorp Alaska that requires the company to expand its inspection of a leaking natural gas pipeline to a nearby oil pipeline.

PHMSA wrote in its statement that an eight-inch oil pipeline owned by Hilcorp in the Alaska Cook Inlet could be susceptible to the same stresses that are affecting the company's eight-inch natural gas pipeline that has been leaking in the inlet since December. Stresses include vibration, contact with rocks, and excessive unsupported bends in the line.

On March 3 PHMSA issued its first Notice of Proposed Safety Order to Hilcorp that requires the company to either repair the leaking pipeline or shut it down by May 1. Hilcorp said it cannot make repairs on the underwater line until winter weather conditions subside. It also cannot shut off the line because the natural gas fuels four petroleum platforms in the inlet.

PHMSA said in its second statement that the oil pipeline that moves crude and water to shore for processing must be inspected by high-resolution side-scan sonar within three weeks of the safety order. If Hilcorp does not comply, the pipeline must be shut down.

Hilcorp has 30 days to respond to the safety order.


Hilcorp Reduces Pressure in Ongoing Leaking Pipeline in Alaska Cook Inlet

Hilcorp Alaska on Monday reduced the pressure in a leaking pipeline that has been spewing natural gas in the Alaska Cook Inlet since the middle of December.

Hilcorp said it cannot completely shut down the line because it fuels four petroleum platforms in the inlet. Repairs are also on standby as it is too dangerous for divers to contend with strong tides, extreme winter weather, and floating ice in the water.

Reducing the pressure in the line has reduced flowing natural gas from between 210,000 and 310,000 cubic feet of gas daily to between 193,000 and 215,000 cubic feet daily, according to the company.

Although the leak has been measured to have begun in mid December, the leak was first sited by a helicopter crew in early January when they saw gas bubbling on the surface in the inlet about four miles off shore.

Environmentalists have requested that the line be completely shut down as the leak could bring harm to beluga whale and salmon habitats. Two groups have told Hilcorp they plan to sue the company, claiming Hilcorp is violating the Clean Air and Clean Water Acts, the Endangered Species Act, and the Pipeline Safety Act.

PHMSA in early March sent a Notice of Proposed Safety Order to Hilcorp requiring the company to make repairs or shut down the line before May 1.


PHMSA Issues Safety Order to Hilcorp for Ongoing NatGas Leak in Alaska Cook Inlet

PHMSA sent a Notice of Proposed Safety Order to energy company Hilcorp Alaska last week in response to an ongoing natural gas leak that was discovered in the Alaska Cook Inlet in early February.

The natural gas pipeline owned by Hilcorp could have been spilling natural gas into the Cook Inlet as early as December of last year until the leak was spotted from the air on February 7, according to PHMSA. Hilcorp estimates that about 210,000 to 310,000 cubic feet of gas is spilling into the water daily.

In its notice, PHMSA ordered the company to either repair the line by May 1 or shut it down. Hilcorp has said there are complications relating to shutting down the line as it supplies fuel to four oil platforms in the inlet and because residual oil left in the once-crude pipeline could potentially leak into the water if shut down.

Repairs to the leak occurring 80 feet below water cannot yet be made by divers because of severe winter conditions such as sea ice. Divers may be able to start making repairs by late March at the earliest, according to the company.

Several environmental groups have asked the Trump administration to order an emergency order to shut down Hilcorp's pipeline, saying the leak is threatening beluga whale and salmon habitats. Two environmental groups, Cook Inletkeeper and the Center for Biological Diversity, have filed suit against Hilcorp, claiming the company is violating four federal laws: the Clean Air and Clean Water acts, the Endangered Species Act, and the Pipeline Safety Act.


Ongoing Pipeline Leak Spills Natural Gas into Alaska Cook Inlet, Crews Unable to Reach Spill

An underwater natural gas pipeline owned by Hilcorp Alaska has been leaking for at least 10 days in Alaska's Cook Inlet, with surrounding floating ice inhibiting crews to get to the pipeline.

The Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation said risk to public health and safety is small but risk to the surrounding environment cannot easily be measured since a monitoring and assessment program has not started.

A spokesperson for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said the group is concerned for the lives of the endangered beluga whales and their habitats in the inlet.

The company said the cause of the leak is unknown and that it cannot simply stop flow to the pipeline due to issues associated with that option, including the safety systems of the crews located on the platforms in the inlet that are receiving natural gas from the pipeline.

A Hilcorp helicopter flying to a platform noticed natural gas bubbling on the water surface. Divers were assigned to swim out to the pipeline to assess the leak but were not able to due to floating ice in the inlet.

A nonprofit organization called Cook Inletkeeper, which works to protect the watershed, said Wednesday it intends to sue Hilcorp under provisions of the Clean Water Act, saying that the discharged methane is displacing oxygen in the water and potentially harming or killing wildlife.


Crews Clean, Investigate Oil Spill at Tesoro Refinery in Alaska

Alaskan environmental officials are investigating the cause of an oil spill that released approximately 126 gallons at a Tesoro refinery in Kenai Peninsula Borough.

Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation filed a report saying the refinery's operator discovered the spill, estimated to be a mixture of crude oil and water, during a routine inspection on December 18 near a wastewater tank at the refinery.

The company released a statement saying the spill has been contained and that cleanup is underway.

Both cleanup procedures and an investigation are underway and do not yet have a timeline for completion.


Alaska Plans to Overhaul Decades-old Protocol for Cleaning Petroleum Spills

For the first time since 1999, Alaska is working to overhaul its protocol for how to clean up petroleum spills.

The state’s Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) held a meeting in November over revising its regulations that are used in the event of a petroleum-based spill, and the public has until mid January to comment on the proposal.

According to the DEC, updating its regulations is long overdue and need to reflect more current science on the toxicity of petroleum.

Although it is not yet clear what the revised regulations will look like, cleanup protocols for materials like diesel and gasoline will most likely become stricter.

Some Alaskan residents have already said they plan to comment.

Houston Chronicle

Photo thumbail: Denali, formerly Mount McKinley, in Alaska, by Denali National Park and Preserve - _MG_4070Uploaded by AlbertHerring, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=45209082

Obama Administration Blocks New Offshore Drilling in Arctic, Atlantic Oceans

The Obama administration announced Friday an approved five-year offshore drilling plan that bans offshore oil and gas drilling in both the Arctic and Atlantic oceans, resulting in a victory for environmentalists who believe offshore drilling, specifically in the Arctic, would harm whales, walruses, and other wildlife as well as exacerbate global warming.

The plan bans offshore drilling rights in the Chukchi and Beaufort seas north of Alaska but allows for offshore drilling in Alaska’s Cook Inlet as well as in the Gulf of Mexico.

Interior Secretary Sally Jewell said the plan focuses offshore drilling sales in areas that have the highest resource potential and lowest risk as well as removes the regions that are “simply not right to lease.”

Industry officials are upset at the plan, saying the decision was made based on politics and not the facts.

U.S. president elect Trump could re-write the five-year plan when his term begins.

Fox News