Council study reviews remote operations at Valdez Marine Terminal

A recent council study looked at issues associated with the remote control operations of Alyeska Pipeline Service Company’s Valdez Marine Terminal. Alyeska controls some operations for the terminal and pipeline from its Operational Control Center in Anchorage.

The council began the project in part to follow up on a recommended action contained in a risk assessment by Det Norske Veritas, and in part because of concerns highlighted by a 2010 pipeline incident at Pump Station 9, near Delta Junction. In that incident, remotely located operators lost their ability to “see” and control operations at the pump station. The causes of that incident raised concerns that similar vulnerabilities with the controls for the terminal could elevate risks for an oil spill at the terminal.While the council’s mandate stops at the gate of the terminal in Valdez and does not include the Trans-Alaska pipeline system and pump stations, the same control system that is used to control the pipeline also has controls over the terminal.

The council’s efforts to independently assess concerns with the Anchorage center’s control of the oil terminal were substantially limited by the access to personnel and documentation relative to the control system provided by Alyeska in response to requests by the council’s contractor. The center still remotely controls many critical operations at the terminal but no longer is physically located in Valdez. The council believes there is a compelling case that citizens have oversight over the Anchorage center’s operation, which several entities have recommended be independently examined. The need for this independent oversight is especially compelling following the decade long alarm concerns at the control center revealed by Alyeska employees in recent testimony to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.

At the conclusion of this review, the council encouraged both Alyeska and regulators to take the actions appropriate and necessary to address the issues explored, but ultimately unresolved, in the report.

The full report was approved by the board in January 2014.

This report is not currently available online. Please contact staff for more information.


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