BP shut down the largest oil field in the United States Sunday, amidst suspected pipeline corrosion that caused a leak in the Prudhoe Bay oilfield in Alaska. The shutdown occurred at 6:30 a.m. Sunday, but BP did not release a statement (and the story did not hit the major news outlets) until today.
This latest news comes during a string of crises for the British gasoline producer. A deadly explosion last year and a major oil spill in March have contributed to the company's negative press. The indefinite shutdown represents eight percent of all American oil production, at a rate of 400,000 barrels of oil per day. This has led to an immediate price spike of over $1.00 per barrel, according to Yahoo! Finance.
Oil prices are up, but stocks are down today in response to the news. According to the CBS Radio Network, this news will represent an "immediate increase" in the price American drivers will pay for gasoline at the pump.
BP sent a press release through its Alaskan press office this morning, in an attempt to quell fears that might arise from the shutdown:
BP Exploration Alaska, Inc. has begun an orderly and phased shutdown of the Prudhoe Bay oil field following the discovery of unexpectedly severe corrosion and a small spill from a Prudhoe Bay oil transit line.
"They wouldn't be shutting down Prudhoe Bay if this wasn't absolutely necessary," Beutel told CNN. "Once you shut it down, you don't know what will happen when you come back. It could cause all types of problems."
It may be noteworthy to point out that the advertisements on CNNMoney.com were all BP advertisements.
This comes as CNN was running a series of articles on the rising cost of gasoline, energy conservation and alternative fuel sources. The ads highlight the same points from a BP perspective.