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Last Updated: Thursday, 8 June 2006, 04:02 GMT 05:02 UK
BP faces Alaska oil spill probe
An oil spill next to a transit line in Prudhoe Bay, Alaska
The spill covered two acres of the snow-covered tundra
British oil company BP could face a criminal investigation in the US over a massive oil spill in Alaska in March.

The Financial Times newspaper has obtained internal emails which show it is under investigation by a grand jury.

The emails reveal BP has been ordered to hand over a number of documents and other data relating to the leak thought to be caused by a corroded pipe.

A spokesman for the company said BP would provide information showing it had acted properly.

The spill of some 267,000 gallons (1m litres) discovered at Prudhoe Bay field, is the largest ever on Alaska's North Slope region.

BP Alaska, which operates the pipeline, has denied claims it failed to maintain it properly.

Such an investigation by a grand jury could lead to criminal charges and ultimately fines and prison sentences.

Second probe

The spill was detected on 2 March and plugged. Local environmentalists have described it as "a catastrophe".

BP is already facing a probe into a blast at a Texas refinery in March 2005 in which 15 people died and 170 were injured.

BP said "management failures" and "employee mistakes" were responsible.

In 1989, the Exxon Valdez shipping disaster spilled 11m gallons (42m litres) of oil onto the Alaskan coast.

Alaska hit by 'massive' oil spill
11 Mar 06 |  Americas
BP could face US criminal charges
12 Dec 05 |  Business
Exxon hit with $6.75bn spill bill
29 Jan 04 |  Business
Exxon Valdez spill still a danger
19 Dec 03 |  Americas
Exxon Valdez anniversary
25 Mar 99 |  From Our Own Correspondent
Exxon Valdez: Ten years on
23 Mar 99 |  Americas

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