Cook Inlet production stopped

Posted: Tuesday, April 07, 2009

ANCHORAGE - Chevron has halted its oil production in Cook Inlet because of continuing threats from Mount Redoubt eruptions at the Drift River terminal, where the company stores its oil.

About 3.7 million gallons of oil have been removed from two terminal tanks and transferred to the tanker Seabulk Arctic. The overnight transfer was completed shortly before 9:30 a.m. Monday.

Another 2.5 million gallons of oil remain in the tanks. It is mostly sludge, according to Petty Officer Sara Francis with the Coast Guard, part of the unified command monitoring the terminal located 22 miles from the highly active volcano.

To keep the tanks from floating away, crews were adding 840,000 gallons of Cook Inlet water to them. After the work is completed, the tanker was to head to the Tesoro refinery in Nikiski.

Chevron spokeswoman Roxanne Sinz said production has to be suspended because the company has nowhere to store the oil.

An eruption Saturday delayed the transfer of oil from the terminal and forced workers to seek emergency shelter.

The airstrip at the terminal was covered by floodwaters caused by rapid melting of the Drift Glacier.

Tanks, however, remained dry and undamaged.

Officials decided to close the terminal indefinitely Sunday as crews geared up to try once more to remove some of the oil from the tanks.

The facility is a key link in the Cook Inlet oil production process, as producers use it for storage and shipping.

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