World crude oil prices have risen again after British Petroleum indefinitely shut down the biggest oilfield in the US due to a small pipeline leak caused by corrosion. It comes as traders are worried that violence in the Middle East might spill over into the region’s big oil producing countries. The Prudhoe Bay field in Alaska pumps out 400,000 barrels a day; that is 8% of the United States’ domestic oil output.
As well as causing oil prices to jump, the latest spillage and shutdown will renew criticisms of BP’s safety record. Last March there was a much biggest leak from the Alaska pipeline and major corrosion was discovered. Inspections since then have revealed that in places the pipeline walls are less than 20% as thick as they should be.