Wednesday, May 22, 2013
Stuck Oil Rig Freed From North Slope Road
A drilling rig stuck for a week on a busy North Slope oil patch road was freed on Tuesday, a move that should restore normal traffic between Prudhoe Bay and nearby fields.
FAIRBANKS — A drilling rig stuck for a week on a busy North Slope oil patch road was freed on Tuesday, a move that should restore normal traffic between Prudhoe Bay and nearby fields.
The rig, known as Doyon 16, became stuck Sept. 20 while moving from Milne Point to Prudhoe Bay, about 35 miles to the east. Fairbanks-based Doyon Limited, which operates the rig, referred questions about the incident to BP, which leases oil fields in the area.
BP spokesman Steve Rinehart said the rig became stuck in “an inconvenient spot” along Spine Road, a main artery in the network of oil field roads around Prudhoe Bay. Rinehart said the rig became stuck when a wheel broke through the road surface as the rig drove across a section with culverts.
The rig, which travels at one mile per hour, was moving from Milne Point to another job in Prudhoe Bay when it became stuck. Rinehart said it was freed on its own power Tuesday and by today it should be moved a few miles away to a turnout where it won’t obstruct traffic.
Rinehart said the stuck rig didn’t halt work in the area but did cause some logistical headaches for BP. The company needed to use different roads to transport its employees to Milne Point and the Kuparuk field to the south and even made plans to use barges to move workers and equipment along the shoreline to some areas.
“It hasn’t created an emergency,” Rinehart said. “It’s inconvenient, and that’s ‘inconvenient’ underscored.”
Rinehart said the damaged area around the culvert is being repaired. BP expects traffic in the area will be restored by the end of the week.
Rinehart said it isn’t unprecedented for a drilling rig to become stuck but that it’s an uncommon occurrence on the North Slope. He said careful preparations are made before a rig is moved and road conditions were evaluated before the ill-fated move occurred.
“I guess I’d call it an anomaly,” Rinehart said. “You just deal with it, and that’s what we’re doing.”
The Alaska Department of Natural Resources is monitoring the situation since the affected area is adjacent to state lease areas and pipeline rights-of-way. The state agency wasn’t involved in extracting the rig, said Graham Smith, a spokesman for the DNR’s pipeline office.
“We keep tabs on things to make sure nothing affects our leases and to make sure nothing affects the integrity of the pipeline,” Smith said.