An underwater gas pipeline operated by Hilcorp Alaska LLC in Cook Inlet, Alaska is spewing as much as 310,000 cubic feet of methane into the marine habitat.
The leak is from Hilcorp's 8 inch offshore pipeline from Nikiski and located approximately 80 feet under the water. And it may have been leaking before discovery ever since December.
The pipeline supplies natural gas to four oil platforms in the inlet close to Anchorage.
The Department of Energy Conservation (DEC) has asked Hilcorp to begin sampling and monitoring for impacts to the environment. “Until that happens, the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation (department) must assume potential for a worst case scenario and err on the side of caution, as we do with any oil spill or hazardous substance release,” read a DEC letter to Hilcorp on February 27th. Alaska's beluga whales are particularly threatened by the methane emissions.
Hilcorp has reduced pressure in the line to lower the lead rate and it continues to monitor the release from the air.
The U.S. Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) has issued a safety order requiring the line to be repaired by May 1 or to shut down.