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Last Updated: Wednesday, 1 November 2006, 11:38 GMT
BP appoints new Alaska unit head
BP workers scanning oil pipelines at the Prudhoe Bay oil field in Alaska
The oil leak scandal in Alaska has undermined BP's reputation
BP is appointing a new head for its Alaska unit, amid continuing criticism of its failure to repair pipelines that led to oil spills in the region.

Steve Marshall will step down as president of BP Exploration in Alaska, to be replaced by Doug Suttles.

BP had to close part of its Prudhoe Bay field in Alaska in March after 200,000 gallons leaked from corroded pipes.

The US Congress has accused the oil giant of "unacceptable" neglect of its pipelines in Alaska.

Mr Marshall, who will assume a training role at BP, was among those questioned by members of Congress about the corrosion problem at a hearing in September.

Mr Suttles, who will take over the head position in Alaska on 1 January 2007, is currently president of BP's Russia-based Sakhalin project.

Daren Beaudo, a spokesperson for the firm, said the appointment was not connected with the Prudhoe Bay problems.

Under fire

The corrosion problems at the oil field caused BP's output in the third quarter of 2006 to fall by half.

The federal Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Administration said BP had failed to clean pipes for up to eight years.

BP has been severely criticised for its maintenance record on several fronts.

Aftermath of the explosion at the Texas City refinery in March 2005
The 2005 blast at BP's Texas City refinery killed 15 people

A fatal blast in its Texas refinery in March 2005 killed 15 workers and injured 180, the worst US industrial accident in more than a decade.

Earlier in the week, US investigators revealed maintenance backlogs and poor infrastructure at the Texas site.

On Tuesday, Carolyn Merritt, chairwoman for The Chemical Safety Board (CSB) blamed the explosion on "aging infrastructure, overzealous cost-cutting, inadequate design and risk blindness".

Responding to the CSB report, BP said its own investigation's findings were "generally consistent with those of the CSB".

But spokesman Ronnie Chapman added: "The BP Texas City fatal investigation team did not identify previous budget decisions or lack of expenditure as a critical factor, or immediate cause of the accident."

He said that maintenance spending at Texas City had increased 40% over the previous five years and was higher than the industry average per barrel of throughput.


SEE ALSO
BP 'knew of Texas safety worries'
01 Nov 06 |  Business
BP attacked over safety standards
22 Oct 06 |  Business
BP told to testify over explosion
08 Oct 06 |  Business
Alaska woes knock BP production
04 Oct 06 |  Business
BP raises refinery blast pay-out
03 Jul 06 |  Business
BP faces Alaska oil spill probe
08 Jun 06 |  Business

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