Hilcorp will assess Cook Inlet gas line after "permanent" fix

May 22, 2017

Hilcorp’s Anna Platform in Upper Cook Inlet, where workers felt an impact before observing several oil sheens on Saturday.
Credit Cook Inlet Keeper

Hilcorp operation managers were in Kenai Friday to speak at an Alliance luncheon. Cook Inlet Offshore Operations Manager Stan Golis updated the pro-oil industry group on recent oil and gas leaks. 

Golis said repairs to a gas pipeline that supplies heat and power to two oil platforms should be complete. That leak was initially stopped in April, but the fix was only temporary. Golis said divers were set to finish installing a permanent clamp Friday morning.

“I’d like to point out that this is not a corrosion issue,” he said. “What we believe is actually happening here is there is tidal action that moves this pipe back and forth across the rocky outcrops and essentially wears a hole in the pipeline.”

After the meeting, Golis explained that the line will be tested at nearly double its normal operating pressure to detect any leaks. Hilcorp also plans to use what’s called a smart pig to further assess the line.

“It is basically a tool that will get wall thickness readings and other things and will allow us to accurately assess the condition of the pipeline,” Golis explained.

Golis also explained that a suspected oil leak at an upper Cook Inlet platform was not from the underwater pipeline, but from gas meant to keep its flare system lit.

“Overall, what we saw here was a spill of less than three gallons of natural gas condensate which essentially dissipated on the water,” Golis added.

Hilcorp started an internal investigation of the platform’s infrastructure in early April to inspect “all aspects” of the facility. The conclusion is that fuel spilled out of the flare after a large piece of ice struck the platform that month.

State and federal agencies were on hand when Hilcorp restarted its oil platform, but will not be present when the gas pipeline comes back on line.

Golis explained Hilcorp will continue to assess its infrastructure as it always has. He said it inspects 20 percent of all its oil and gas systems annually.

A new initiative to lay about three miles of new pipeline was also outlined. The $75 million project will connect to the existing pipeline system to carry oil across the inlet instead of tankers. The project will eliminate the need to store oil at the Drift River Terminal near the base of Mount Redoubt.

Golis said two oil platforms will be taken off line and dismantled as part of the project. Hilcorp hopes to begin early next year and finish by September.