BP moves Prudhoe Bay manager to London job

Posted: Sunday, December 03, 2006

ANCHORAGE - A second top-ranking BP Alaska executive who oversaw troubled operations at Prudhoe Bay has been reassigned.

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Vice President Maureen Johnson will move to a new job in London, spokesman Daren Beaudo said. She will be replaced on Dec. 18 by Mike Utsler, part of the oil company's North Sea management team in Scotland.

BP earlier named Doug Suttles as president of BP Exploration Inc., taking over the company's top Alaska job Jan. 1. He will replace Steve Marshall, who was named operations development vice president.

Johnson will become "Head of Discipline, Operations Excellence," and work with operations in Angola, Latin America, the Middle East and North Africa, Beaudo said.

Johnson, one of 11 vice presidents who report to the BP Alaska president, had held the company's top position managing Prudhoe Bay for about three years.

Johnson's job change is not related to the company's problems in the past year on the nation's largest oil field, Beaudo said.

Leadership turnovers at BP Alaska have historically been common, Beaudo said. Only two other vice presidents have served longer than four years in their posts.

In March, a leak in a transit line between a gathering center and a pump station for the trans-Alaska oil pipeline spilled as much as 267,000 gallons of market-ready crude oil onto tundra. It was the largest oil spill ever in North Slope oil fields.

In August, after BP had begun running "smart pigs" through lines looking for signs of corrosion, a pinhole leak allowed less than a thousand gallons of oil to spill from another transit line.

With data in hand indicating 16 "anomalies," or other possible corrosive spots, BP responded by shutting down part of the massive Prudhoe field.

BP executives have acknowledged that the company's corrosion inspection program was flawed. The company has committed to replacing a total of 16 miles of transit oil pipelines, the ones that leaked.

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