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Plans in motion for decommissioning Drift River oil terminal

ADEC - S. Russell

About every 25 or so years, statistically, mud rushing down the side of Mount Redoubt as the result of volcanic eruption threatens the Drift River oil storage facility and terminal on the west side of Cook Inlet. If all goes as planned, a new project by Harvest Alaska, a subsidiary of Hilcorp, will mitigate those dangers and simplify the pipeline infrastructure in and around the inlet.

Richard Novacaski, Alaska Operations Manager for Harvest Alaska, outlined the Cross-Inlet Pipeline Extension for members of the Kenai Chamber of Commerce at its weekly luncheon Wednesday at the Kenai Visitors and Cultural Center.

With a price tag of $75-million, the project is in the permitting stage, but if it gets the go-ahead from the Regulatory Commission of Alaska and environmental stamp of approval, Harvest Alaska could start decommissioning the Drift River Terminal in the fall of 2018 and remove its infrastructure in early 2019. The decommissioning alone is expected to cost $20-million.

Once the Drift River Terminal is gone, oil can be transported to Nikiski via pipeline rather than by tanker, which is the current method. That will be done in the future, according to Novacaski, through re-purposing an existing natural gas pipeline that crosses the inlet.

A few new miles of pipeline will need to be laid on the west side, he said, and a high-pressure natural gas line in Nikiski will be upgraded as part of the project.

Next Wednesday's chamber of commerce luncheon will be held at the Soldotna Sports Center in conjunction with the Soldotna Chamber, and feature an update from the Central Peninsula's delegation to Juneau.

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