August 10, 2006

US requires more inspections of BP Alaska line

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The Bush administration ordered BP
Plc late on Thursday to conduct more inspections of its entire
North Slope pipeline network and meet certain safety
requirements before restarting its downed Prudhoe Bay oilfield.

The Transportation Department's Pipeline Hazardous
Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) said BP must conduct
four daily surveys of all its low-pressure lines in the North
Slope. This includes its Eastern line, which the company halted
this week because of a leak and extensive corrosion.

Prior to a resumption of service of the Eastern line, the
order requires the British oil company to conduct a series of
diagnostic tests to ensure it has been inspected and that any
defects are repaired to federal standards.

BP has 30 days to submit plans with the government for
replacing or restoring the line.

The company will be required to use special heat-seeking
infrared equipment to spot leaks and conduct visual walking,
driving or flying surveys on the 22-mile system, said the
safety administration's administrator, Adm. Thomas Barrett.

The order also directs BP to strip the insulation from its
Western operating line -- which may continue to move oil -- and
conduct an ultrasonic test to obtain a complete picture of that
line's condition.

Thursday's order represents the third directive this year
from federal pipeline regulators requiring stepped up
inspections of the Prudhoe Bay operation.

The original order followed a pipeline failure along the
Western line in March 2006. It was amended in July with
additional requirements.