Alyeska resumes loading oil at Valdez; no reasons given for temporary shutdown

Pipeline service company receives go-ahead from U.S. Coast Guard

Posted: Friday, January 02, 2004

ANCHORAGE - Alyeska Pipeline Service Co. resumed loading oil tankers Thursday after consultation with the U.S. Coast Guard.

Alyeska spokesman Mike Heatwole confirmed that his company began loading crude oil from the 800-mile trans-Alaska pipeline onto tankers on Thursday afternoon after Alyeska received the go-ahead from the Coast Guard.

The oil tanker terminal had been closed at the request of the Coast Guard on Tuesday night.

"The Coast Guard gave us those instructions," Heatwole said.

Neither Heatwole nor the Coast Guard has given reasons for the temporary shutdown. Oil continued to flow south from the North Slope into storage tanks at the terminal.

Coast Guard public affairs spokeswoman Sara Raymer said her agency consulted with other law enforcement officials to assess the threat.

"State, local and federal officials made the group decision to reopen the port with additional security precautions being taken," she said.

She did not have specifics as to the additional security precautions.

Tankers load Prudhoe Bay oil destined for the Lower 48 at Valdez, the end of the trans-Alaska pipeline, which carries 17 percent of the nation's domestic oil supply.

Last week, security was beefed up in the Prince William Sound community after U.S. officials said al-Qaida operatives could target remote sites such as oil facilities in Alaska.

After the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, Alaska disaster officials identified the pipeline as the only real terrorist target that could have national implications.

There are 18 storage tanks in Valdez with a capacity to hold 9.1 million barrels of oil.

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