Gas Pipeline Problems Impact Charlottesville

By: Venton Blandin
By: Venton Blandin

August 7, 2006

The news that one of the country's main oil supply pipelines is closed has area drivers wondering if there will be another price spike at the pumps.

"It's going to send the price of oil per barrel up quite a bit," said BP Customer Emily Radcliff.

Emily Radcliff shares the reaction of many Americans as a big problem looms of the horizon. Just as we start getting used to prices hovering just below three bucks a gallon, the announcement was made. Oil giant BP announced it is shutting down a major oil field in Alaska for weeks, if not months. The nation will lose about 400,0000 barrels of oil a day, sending fears throughout the country about another fuel shortage.

"I know it is a significant percentage of our national consumption, and...yeah, that's going to affect us," said BP Customer Greg Newman.

The severe corrosion impacts 8% of the nation's oil supply.

Already, oil prices are jumping up more than $1.60 a barrel, and it could get even worse, pushing prices closer to a record $78.00 a barrel.

Radcliff said she saw this coming. "It's been going on for what, 50 or 60 years on those old fields, and it [was] bound to happen, so maybe it's better they shut it down and check it."

The check is estimated to cost Alaska 4.6 million dollars a day in production loss. BP says it is speeding up the inspections, and working with government regulators to make sure there are no other problems with the lines.

One driver said this could have been avoided.

"Corrosion is something you have to look out for...Maybe it should have been caught on the front-side," added Newman.

Right now, there's no real timetable for getting the pipeline back on line.

"Only when we're absolutely satisfied that those lines are in good condition will we bring those lines back into service," said a BP Spokesperson.

There is no indication on when the pipeline will be fixed, but BP officials are working on it. It can take days, weeks, or even months.

If you believe a gas station is unfairly raising their prices, you should contact the state's price gouging hotline at (800) 552-9963.

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