North Slope crude oil spills into Port Valdez

On September 21, approximately 100 gallons of North Slope Crude oil was spilled into Port Valdez. The spill occurred during a planned annual leak-test of the pipes that load oil onto tankers out at the end of loading Berth 5 at the Valdez Marine Terminal. To conduct the annual test, Alyeska Pipeline Service Company uses the berth’s fire system to pump seawater into the crude piping to a pressure of 190 PSI, or pounds per square inch. That pressure is held for a prescribed amount of time to allow inspectors to visually check the pipes for leaks. However, that day Alyeska was unable to achieve the necessary 190 PSI test pressure and an apparent operational error led to a mixture of crude oil and seawater being spilled into Port Valdez. Alyeska is conducting a thorough investigation of the spill. … Continue reading

Tom Kuckertz: Retired staff member still contributes engineering expertise to council’s mission

The council has benefited from Chicago-born Tom Kuckertz’ broad experience in engineering for 16 years and counting. After his retirement from the council in 2014, Kuckertz continued on as a volunteer for the committee he worked with most closely, the Terminal Operations and Environmental Monitoring Committee. A young Kuckertz earned degrees in electrical engineering at the University of Illinois and the University of Idaho, followed by two years in the U.S. Army as a Signal Corps officer, where he was involved in the design and implementation of large communications systems. “Basically, it involved how to move information from one place to another, and in most cases, deny access to adversaries,” explained Kuckertz. … Continue reading

From Alyeska: Pipe inspections on terminal finds no repairs needed

Submitted by Alyeska Corporate Communications. This summer, Alyeska’s multi-year internal inspection program of Valdez Marine Terminal piping included inspecting buried relief system and crude oil piping in and around the East Metering building, and from West Metering to the end of Berth 5. Much of this piping is encased in concrete and was considered “uninspectable” until recent advances in inspection technology. Crews started in the spring, working in and around the East Metering building where oil enters the Terminal and is measured as part of the pipeline leak detection system. They built containment and installed equipment to allow for system isolation. The roof was modified so cranes could remove large segments of pipe from the building and return them after the inspection. During a scheduled maintenance shutdown in June, TAPS personnel drained down and isolated the impacted piping around East Metering. Once the shutdown was completed, a contractor cleaned the pipe with special equipment that limited physical entry into the pipe. Crews removed several 90-degree pipe segments to create access points for the crawler pig (see photos) that carries the inspection tool through the pipe. Pigs inspected approximately 2,100 feet of pipe ranging from 16 to 36 inches in diameter. Alyeska integrity management staff analyzed the data, and found no needed repairs and no significant impact to pipeline or Terminal operations. The piping has returned to service. … Continue reading

Marine services for Alyeska to change hands in 2018

Update: This article ran in the May issue of our newsletter, The Observer, stay tuned for updates in the next issue! Crowley Marine Services, the contractor who provides oil spill prevention and response services to Alyeska Pipeline Service Company, will no longer provide those services after June 30, 2018. Crowley has held this contract with Alyeska since the company created its Ship Escort/Response Vessel System, also known as SERVS, after the Exxon Valdez oil spill. Crowley also provided tanker docking services since 1977, and helped dock the first tanker at the Valdez terminal. Crowley owns the powerful tugboats that escort loaded oil tankers through Prince William Sound. The tugs also scout for ice drifting from nearby Columbia Glacier, and are equipped to start cleaning up a spill or tow a disabled tanker if needed. In addition to the escort tugs, Crowley owns response tugs that help the tankers dock and other support vessels and barges stationed in Prince William Sound which contain Alyeska’s boom, skimmers, and other equipment for a quick response to an oil spill. Crowley employs 230 mariners and 17 administrative personnel in the area. … Continue reading