BP shuts down major Alaskan oil field; poop to hit fan

Oil giant BP will temporarily shut down production at its Prudhoe Bay oil field, after “unexpectedly severe corrosion” and a small spill were discovered in an oil transit line on Sunday. That could mean trouble: the Prudhoe field represents nearly half the production from Alaska’s North Slope, some 400,000 barrels a day, about 8 percent of total U.S. production. It will take a few days to shut things down, but once the oil is offline, the impact on prices could be substantial — a bump of up to $10 a barrel, according to one analyst. Alaska could suffer up to $4.6 million a day in lost revenues. Though BP may win some points for its better-safe-than-sorry approach, the shutdown represents unwelcome attention for a company that has faced a series of PR disasters, from a massive oil spill in March, to an explosion at a Texas refinery in March 2005, to propane market price-manipulation charges in early 2004. Ah, oil addiction … never a dull moment!