Trans-Alaska pipeline shut down for first time in two years

Bad weather interfering with tanker loading combined with full storage tanks at Valdez forced a shutdown of the trans-Alaska oil pipeline Monday night.

Operators stopped pumps along the 800-mile pipeline at 8 p.m. local time and planned to hold the line idle for six hours in hopes the wind and waves abate around the tanker dock, said Michelle Egan, spokeswoman for Alyeska Pipeline Service Co., which runs the pipeline.

If conditions don't improve, the pipeline might be idled for another six hours, she said.

Oil companies on the North Slope began to throttle back on oil production Sunday, but pipeline operators finally decided the six-hour shutdown was necessary because storage tanks were at 91 pecent of capacity.

High wind and waves last forced a shutdown in November 2006.

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