| April 2
April 2 Alaska officials reported an oil leak
from an underwater pipeline late on Saturday that was within
habitat designated as critical for endangered Cook Inlet beluga
The leak originated from an eight-inch pipeline connecting
two Hilcorp Energy production platforms in the Upper Cook Inlet.
Hilcorp shut down both platforms following the leak and the
pipeline is now operating at reduced pressure, the Alaska
Department of Environmental Conservation (ADEC) said.
Hilcorp estimated that fewer than 10 gallons of oil have
been released, but ADEC has not confirmed that figure, spill
prevention and response director Kristin Ryan said on Sunday.
"We do not know if it's still leaking," Ryan said.
"The reduced pressure should minimize the amount being
released from the leak and we have not seen sheening since that
time, but we have not been able to confirm."
Hilcorp did not immediately respond to a request for
The population of belugas that swim off the coast of
Alaska's largest city was listed as endangered in 2008 by the
federal government and more than 3,000 square miles have been
protected as critical habitat since 2011.
The spill occurred in an area that is also home to other
endangered mammals including the Steller sea lion and the
The ADEC has not seen any impact to wildlife yet. Three
overhead flights were conducted on Saturday with no animals seen
where sheening had occurred or near the pipeline, Ryan said.
The cause of the leak was unknown and being investigated,
ADEC said. The line can hold 461 barrels of oil at full
Hilcorp last week shut two Alaskan oil production platforms
after reducing pressure on a leaking natural gas pipeline in
The two incidents are unrelated, ADEC said.
The Center for Biological Diversity said in a statement on
Sunday it had sent Hilcorp a 60-day notice of its intent to sue
for the gas leak, and is monitoring the oil leak to determine
whether additional legal action is warranted.
"We're really worried about what this means for Cook Inlet
belugas with the double whammy of an oil spill and gas leak in
the same season," Miyoko Sakashita, oceans program director for
the Center for Biological Diversity said in an emailed
Hilcorp has hired a diving contactor to investigate the line
and make repairs and it is anticipated that this work can be
conducted late next week, ADEC said.
(Reporting by Devika Krishna Kumar in New York; Additional
reporting by Steve Gorman in Los Angeles; Editing by Meredith