ConocoPhillips Company operates the oil refinery in Kuparuk, Alaska, which produces up to 14,400 barrels of oil each day. They are perhaps most often recognized for their Union 76 brand of gas stations which can be seen all across the nation. The company was originally known as the Continental Oil and Transportation Company when it formed in 1875 in Utah. Over time, the official name was changed, and the company grew to become one of the most successful oil producers in the world. Their Alaska plant, which started production of oil in 1981, is located near the site of the second largest oil field in the United States.
During April of 2001, a problem with the pipeline used by the Kuparuk facility caused the spillage of over 70,000 gallons of water that was being pumped in from the North Slope. The damaged pipe was automatically shut down when a pressure alarm activated as the leak began. The pipeline itself was shut down temporarily while repairs were made.
Since the initiation of the plant in Kuparuk, the facility has continued to steadily produce petroleum based products. A chemical known as Benzene was found to be present at the plant, which has led to some lawsuits being filed by employees. Benzene is a very hazardous substance that can lead to leukemia and other diseases. This was not the only toxic material used within the refinery. Like so many other refineries, products made out of asbestos were commonly used at the Kuparuk facility. For many years the use of asbestos as a primary ingredient in a variety of industrial items was not unusual, but over time it was discovered to be highly toxic, and a leading cause of Mesothelioma and other forms of cancer. Exposure to asbestos can lead to the development of these serious health issues over a long period of time. For that reason, all former employees of the plant should notify their healthcare providers about their risk of exposure.
In 2007, ConocoPhillips had begun the planning for a major expansion project that would cost up to $300 million. These upgrades would help to make the site more compliant to the Federal Clean Air Act by producing fuel with lower levels of sulfur. The plans were nearly ready to be put into action, and the expected finish date was sometime in 2010. However, as of November 2007, the project had been cancelled. Officials at ConocoPhillips state that the recently changed taxation policy in Alaska is to blame for the cancellation of the massive upgrades. The new tax system would have raised the company's taxes considerably, and it proved to be too much for the operation to continue. The Vice President of Conoco Phillips' operations in Alaska, Kevin Mitchell, promises the company will look for new ways to lower the amount of sulfur in their petrochemical products, but officially stated the new tax plan as the primary reason for eliminating the upgrade.
Last modified: December 09, 2009.