Divers trace Cook Inlet oil leak to hole in undersea pipeline

ANCHORAGE -- The source of a Cook Inlet oil leak, and the resulting weeklong shutdown of Unocal’s Dolly Varden production platform, was traced Feb. 15 to a hole smaller than a quarter-inch in an undersea pipeline.

Divers were able to pinpoint the hole, but ice floating in the Inlet made it unsafe for them to conduct further testing that would help Unocal figure out how to fix it, company spokeswoman Roxanne Sinz said.

Until the line is fixed, Unocal will send crude oil through a natural gas line that leads to the platform, Sinz said. It is a former oil line, so Unocal made the switch with minor modifications at either end, she said.

Before the platform shut down for testing, it was pumping 3,800 barrels of oil a day, she said.

Sinz said she couldn’t provide a cost estimate for the spill, but said it would run higher than the weeklong loss of oil revenues.

Sinz has said the amount of oil believed lost is small, possibly 2 to 20 gallons.

02/24/2001 - 8:00pm