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    Victor A. Schmidt, Drilling Engineering Editor

    Check your pipes. Recent pipeline failures in the frozen wastes of Alaska point out the serious problem that corrosion creates. Recall the oil leak in early March in Prudhoe Bay, covering three acres or so with around 4,700 bbl from a 1D4-in. hole in a 34-in. pipeline. A month later, another leak in Prudhoe Bay vented 12 Mcf of natural gas from a 3-in. pipe in a gas-lift system. Also in April, Kuparuk field experienced a leak that covered about 2,000 sq ft of tundra with 12 bbl of produced water, released from a hole in a 24-in. pipeline. You probably heard of the first one because of the Prudhoe Bay/ Alaska pipeline connection, but the others? I doubt it – they only got local coverage. However, they are the more common problems; relatively small leaks that seldom draw the world’s attention, but which can lead to large environmental problems, regulatory headaches and cleanup expenses.

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