Energy

Hilcorp, BP fined by agencies for North Slope oil spills

Two Alaska oil producers are being fined for separate North Slope oil spills associated with Clean Water Act violations, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced Wednesday.

BP Exploration Alaska is being fined for a 700-gallon spill involving natural gas, crude oil and produced water that occurred at Prudhoe Bay in April 2014, according to a statement from the EPA.

The Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation fined the company $100,000, while the federal agency fined it $30,000, the EPA said.

The settlements with BP stemmed from a joint enforcement action involving the two agencies, said Mark MacIntyre, an EPA communications officer.

The BP spill affected 33 acres of Arctic tundra and gravel pad and was caused by a freezing rupture in a flowline at H Pad, Well 8, the EPA said.

BP operates Prudhoe Bay on behalf of the field's other major lease-holders, ExxonMobil and ConocoPhillips.

BP said in a statement that its share of the federal penalty is about $7,800, while its share for the state settlement is about $26,000.

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"BP has spent the last several years systematically strengthening safety and risk management based on lessons learned from past accidents. BP is focusing on operating Prudhoe Bay in a safe, reliable and compliant manner," said the BP statement, sent by Dawn Patience, a BP press officer.

Also, Hilcorp Alaska was fined $100,000 by the federal agency to settle violations by that company, the EPA said.

Hilcorp in February 2015 spilled nearly 10,000 gallons of crude oil and produced water from a leak in the bottom of a pipeline at the Milne Point field. The spill affected 40,000 square feet of Arctic tundra and gravel pad, the agency said. The spill was initially reported as 4,000 gallons, and occurred from a relatively new pipeline.

The state is continuing to investigate the Hilcorp Alaska spill, said Candice Bressler, public information officer for DEC. Bressler said she could not comment on the investigation.

"This case is still pending," she said.

Alex DeMarban

Alex DeMarban is a longtime Alaska journalist who covers business, the oil and gas industries and general assignments. Reach him at 907-257-4317 or alex@adn.com.

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