Trans-Alaska Pipeline, Owned By BP, Shut Down After Oil Spill

If BP was a comatose patient on a ventilator, this is where the doctor would say, "enough, better luck next time" and pull the plug. With the firm about to see a lynch mob on its corporate HQ grounds any day now, the last thing the company can afford is news of another oil spill. Enter Murphy's law. Reuters reports: "The Trans-Alaska Pipeline, partly owned by BP, shut down on Tuesday after a crude oil spill, drastically cutting supply out of Alaska's oilfields." The only good news out of this: it is now abundantly clear that actual oil supply and demand are the last things on anyone's mind when determining what the price of crude should be. Kinda like pretty much every other asset in America these days.

More from Reuters:

 The accident comes at a difficult time for BP -- the largest single owner of the pipeline, holding 47 percent of Alyeska -- as it struggles to plug a gushing Gulf of Mexico oil well.

The shutdown followed a series of mishaps that resulted from a scheduled fire-command system test at Pump Station 9, about 100 miles south of Fairbanks, said Alyeska Pipeline Service Co, the operator of the 800-mile (1,287 km) oil line said.

The power outage triggered opening of relief valves, causing an unspecified volume of crude oil to overflow a storage tank into a secondary containment. There were no injuries, but the work site was evacuated, Alyeska said.

North Slope oil producers have been instructed to cut their flow to 16 percent of their normal rates, Alyeska said.

Alyeska is a consortium owned by five oil companies. Major owners are BP, ConocoPhillips (COP.N: Quote, Profile, Research) and Exxon Mobil (XOM.N: Quote, Profile, Research). Unocal and Koch hold minor shares.

The Trans-Alaska Pipeline, which runs from Prudhoe Bay to the tanker port of Valdez, normally ships about 667,000 barrels of oil daily.