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CEO of Alaska Pipeline, a Former BP Exec, Steps Down

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BP's Prudhoe Bay oil field facility in Alaska. (Photo handout from BP)

As we’ve reported, BP’s company safety record in Alaska has been marked by  cost cuts, alleged intimidation from workers, and a "run-to-failure" mentality when it comes to equipment maintenance.

This week, Kevin Hostler, CEO of the company that operates the pipeline—a company called Alyeska, and largely controlled by BP thanks to its 47 percent ownership of the pipeline—announced he was retiring, reported the Los Angeles Times. The announcement comes as Congressional panels investigate some of the safety complaints about Alyeska and BP. (The retirement was first reported by Truthout.org.)

BP is the largest single owner of the pipeline, and Hostler had been a senior executive at BP before joining Alyeska in 2005.

In a statement on its website, Alyeska Pipeline Service Company said that during Hostler’s tenure, employees on the pipeline “improved safety performance,” and “fewer employees were hurt on the job.”

Several employees, however, complained repeatedly about the company. Here’s the L.A. Times:

The House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations is looking into some of the employees' complaints. Rep. Bart Stupak, D-Mich., chairman of the panel, said committee staff shared some thoughts with Hostler last week.

"We expressed serious concerns about a recent internal report showing significant issues with the management culture at Alyeska," Stupak said in a statement, adding, "Mr. Hostler's early retirement does not come as a surprise."

The pipeline, as some may recall, was closed briefly in May after an oil spill there, even as BP's oil gushed into the Gulf of Mexico. As we’ve reported, in March 2006, the pipeline spilled more than 200,000 gallons. Here’s what we reported in an earlier piece:

BP had been warned to check the pipeline in 2002, but hadn't, according to a report in Fortune. When it did inspect it, four years later, it found that a six-mile length of pipeline was corroded. The company temporarily shut down its operations in Prudhoe Bay, causing one of the largest disruptions in U.S. oil supply in recent history.

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