Alaska's Governor Frets Over Pipeline Shutdown

Alaska Gov. Frank Murkowski institutes a statewide hiring freeze in an attempt to prepare for the economic crunch brought on by his state's crippled Prudhoe Bay oil pipelines.

The threat of a stoppage endangers Alaska's budget: Oil taxes account for more than 80 percent of its revenues.

NPR's Michele Norris talks to Gov. Murkowski, who says he has not ruled out suing British Petroleum, the company controlling the oil fields.

The Prudhoe Bay Pipeline

Workers attempt to repair an oil leak at Prudoe Bay. BP/Getty Images hide caption

Map: Alaska and World Reserves
itoggle caption BP/Getty Images

Prudhoe Bay is the largest U.S. oilfield, representing 8 percent of domestic production. BP, which controls the oil rights, began shutting down the western portion of the field after a small leak — and extensive corrosion — was found.

Before the shutdown, the Prudhoe Bay field had been producing 400,000 barrels of crude oil a day. BP has announced that it will try to maintain a diminished flow of oil from the field as it works to repair or replace some 16 miles of pipeline.

Located on Alaska's North Slope, the Prudhoe Bay oil field was discovered in 1968. It remains the largest oil field in North America.

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