Gas leak takes Northstar field offline

The Northstar field, which sits on a constructed gravel island in the Beaufort Sea north of the Prudhoe Bay field, will be down for an uncertain amount of time due to a small gas leak.

BP Exploration Alaska Inc. said Feb. 21 that its Northstar field on the North Slope will be off production for several days as work crews replace piping in the field’s gas handling system.

A small pinhole-sized gas leak from a weld on an 8-inch pipeline was discovered Feb. 18 during a routine maintenance inspection of the field’s gas handling system, BP spokesman Daren Beaudo said. The field has been producing about 47,000 barrels per day.

“Northstar is a single-train process facility, and when a problem is discovered in any section, we shut down the entire facility,” Beaudo said. Corrosion in the weld appears to be the cause of the gas leak, he said. BP is inspecting all pipes in the gas handling system and some other sections will be replaced, Beaudo said.

Other repairs unrelated to the leak will also be made. “Whenever there is an unscheduled outage, we take advantage of it to accelerate maintenance that has been planned,” Beaudo said.

State officials were notified by BP of the leak, but there was no spill or other environmental hazard created by the incident, said Lynda Giguere, spokeswoman for the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation.

Northstar is an offshore island in the Alaska Beaufort Sea six miles north of large Prudhoe Bay field, which BP also operates. Production facilities are located on a 5-acre artificial gravel island in 39 feet of water.

11/09/2016 - 5:07pm