April 19, 2007
"The economic well-being
of our state depends on the flow of oil from state lands on the
North Slope and elsewhere in the state," said Governor Palin.
"Alaska will continue to deliver the new energy our nation
needs, and we absolutely demand that our oil and gas systems
are up to the job."
PSIO addresses lax maintenance practices on the North Slope that came to light last year after corroded pipelines spilled 200,000 gallons of oil, leading to production shut-downs at Prudhoe Bay and interruption in the flow of oil revenue to the state, she said.
PSIO requires industry to establish and maintain quality assurance programs, and requires the state to inspect facilities to ensure operators comply with those programs. PSIO will also search for any gaps in laws, regulations or industry practices that threaten the integrity of the state's oil and gas infrastructure. If necessary, the office will step in and exert the state's authority as issuer of development leases to ensure the system and the state's interests are protected.
Under PSIO, state and federal agencies will retain their own responsibilities: Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation for environmental protection; Alaska Department of Natural Resources for land and water use, habitat protection, unit and lease management, and coastal zone management; and the U.S. Department of Transportation for the trans-Alaska Pipeline System (TAPS). But their efforts will be better coordinated, and any gaps in oversight will be better filled, through PSIO, the governor said.
"No other state has taken such bold steps to make sure the operators of oil and gas facilities are properly maintaining their own equipment," Palin said. "Alaska is the first state to make operators share their maintenance and quality assurance programs with the state. We're the first state to make operators document that they are complying with those programs. We're the first state to conduct inspections to verify they are complying with those programs.
While the goal of the previous
administration's systems integrity effort was the same, the Lease
Monitoring and Engineering Integrity Coordinator's Office (LMEICO),
would have added expensive new permitting, budgeting and personnel
functions in a complex structure that provided little additional
benefit, Governor Palin said.
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