Whistleblowing in Oil and Gas Industry

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"Whistleblowers warn of Alaska oil disaster - paper July 12, 1999

Web posted at: 3:26 p.m. EDT (1926 GMT)

LONDON (Reuters) -- Six senior employees of an Alaskan oil pipeline company have warned that a far worse ecological disaster than the Exxon Valdez catastrophe 10 years ago could occur at any time, the Guardian reported on Monday.

The newspaper said the whistleblowers from the Alyeska company running the 800-mile (1,280 km) trans-Alaska pipeline had written to BP Amoco (BPA.L) and three U.S. Congressmen saying there was an imminent threat to human life and the environment.

A BP Amoco spokeswoman told Reuters: "I cannot comment on it because we have not had any letter."

The Guardian said the letter from the six, whom it did not identify, contained evidence of compliance failures and other serious charges.

The whistleblowers feared a possible rupture of the aging pipeline or an explosion at the Valdez oil tanker terminal, the newspaper said.

"It's not a matter of if it is going to happen, it's when it is going to happen," it quoted one of them as saying.

BP Amoco owns 50 percent of Alyeska, which operates both installations on its behalf.

The Guardian said the whistleblowers, all senior employees on the 22-year-old Trans-Alaska Pipeline System, had provided it with evidence of compliance failures and other charges.

On March 24, 1989, the oil tanker Exxon Valdez struck a reef in Prince William Sound that ripped open its hull, spilling 11 million gallons of oil into one of the world's most bountiful ecosystems.

The spill killed more wildlife than any other environmental disaster.

At least 3,500 sea otters, 200 harbor seals, 14 killer whales and 350,000 birds died. It devastated fish populations and coated 1,000 miles (1,600 km) of shoreline.

In October 1991, a week before the start of jury selection, Exxon (XON.N) agreed to pay a record settlement of $1.1 billion, 97 percent of which went toward clean-up and restoration efforts.

Commercial fishing, one of Alaska's biggest and most vital industries, has suffered in Prince William Sound since the spill due the decline in fish populations.

Bob Malone, president of Alyeska Pipeline Service Co, told the Anchorage Chamber of Commerce on March 8 that the company had made dramatic reforms in its oil spill prevention and response programs.

"We're not the company that we were 10 years ago," he said.

Alyeska was criticized for an inadequate and disorganized response to the Exxon Valdez grounding.

It is owned by seven oil companies, the major ones being BP Amoco, Exxon and Atlantic Richfield (ARC.N). Phillips Petroleum (P.N), Mobil (MOB.N), Unocal (UCL.N) and Amerada Hess (AHC.N) own minor shares.

Copyright 1999 Reuters. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed."

-- Rachel Gibson (rgibson@hotmail.com), July 13, 1999


Previously posted two days earlier:
Potential Trouble On The Alaska Oil Pipeline. OT? at http://www.greenspun.com/bboard/q-and-a-fetch-msg.tcl?msg_id=0014Ye
The earlier thread could easily have been found by searching thread titles for "Oil".

Folks, please do your part to reduce forum clutter, before you start a new thread, by checking for existing threads on the topic you want to post, especially if you're quoting a news aricle dated prior to the current day. I notice that a high proportion of the same-topic threads started here are based on identical news articles and have at least one keyword in common in their titles.

-- No Spam Please (nos_pam_please@hotmail.com), July 13, 1999.


Thanks for bringing this to my attention. I wonder how much of this stuff is going on.

-- Rick (rick7@postmark.net), July 14, 1999.

First, thanks, Rick.

Second, give me a break, No Spam. I don't post often, I weed through a lot of threads looking for items of substance, and just once in a while I read things with a different eye. While the other posting of the article may have focused on "Alaska, oil, and gas," I was seeing "whistleblower, compliance issues." I listed this thread under "embedded systems."

I read this forum not for analysis of the issues, but for recent news. Mainstream media and company websites are not forthcoming with honest information; this forum has potential for the whistleblowers. I suspect the alternating "trolls" know that and hang around just to keep an eye out for them too.

No Spam, you wouldn't be taking any offense at seeing the word "whistleblower" yourself, would you?

-- Rachel Gibson (rgibson@hotmail.com), July 15, 1999.

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