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ConocoPhillips will pay Alaska $312,000 after North Slope oil spills

Alex DeMarban

ConocoPhillips has agreed to pay state and federal environmental regulators $312,000 in penalties and other costs related to a pair of oil spills at the Kuparuk Unit facility on Alaska’s North Slope.

The state will receive $267,000 for the 2006 and 2007 spills, both of which stemmed from corroded pipelines.

The charge includes $155,000 in fines and $112,000 to repay the state for the investigation that followed the spill.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency will receive $45,000 for the 2007 incident.

In March 2006, Conoco spilled about 500 gallons of water contaminated with small amounts of crude, the state said in a written statement. A number of factors caused internal corrosion, leading to the leak, an investigation found. 

In December 2007, Conoco spilled 2,870 gallons of contaminated water and 1,386 gallons of crude. An investigation determined that incorrectly manufactured pipe insulation allowed water to be drawn to the pipe's sidewall, the state said.

In that incident, Conoco and contracted responders built snow berms to contain the spill and constructed a 300-yard-long ice road in subzero cold to improve access to the site, the EPA reported. The teams removed the pollution with shovels and hot water, and the oil was eventually separated and recovered from the snow.

Remedial measures ConocoPhillips will take in the future include improvements to its program to monitor for evidence of corrosion in its flow lines, the state reported.

The state Environmental Conservation department has instituted new requirements for leak detection, monitoring, engineering reviews, reporting and inspections because of the two leaks and others on the North Slope, said Larry Dietrick, state Director of Spill Prevention and Response.

Contact Alex DeMarban at alex(at)alaskadispatch.com