April 10 (Reuters) - * Divers have begun repairing a leak from an 8-inch natural gas pipeline in the Middle Ground Shoal area in Alaska’s Cook Inlet, Hilcorp Energy Co said on Monday.
* Endangered beluga whales and other marine mammals live in the inlet.
* The company shut two Alaskan oil production platforms two weeks ago after reducing pressure on a leaking natural gas pipeline in Cook Inlet.
* At the reduced rate, the leak is estimated to be around 85 to 115 thousand cubic feet per day, the company said in late March.
* Hilcorp said divers, who began the work on Friday, found the leak and were preparing to install a temporary clamp to stop it.
* The leak site, which is about 2 inches long, was on the bottom of a section of the pipeline resting on a boulder embedded in the seafloor, Hilcorp said.
* The line will not be returned to service until permanent repairs have been completed, the company said. * Separately, Hilcorp was also involved in an oil leak from an underwater pipeline within habitat designated as critical for endangered Cook Inlet beluga whales. The spill occurred in an area that is also home to other endangered mammals, including the Steller sea lion and the humpback whale. (Reporting by Apeksha Nair in Bengaluru; Editing by Jonathan Oatis)