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More trouble for BP

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The past 16 months have proven to be costly for BP. Many people may think that the shutdown of part of the Prudhoe Bay field on Aug. 6 is the worst news for BP, but the truth is that a string of problems over the year have hurt the company.

In March, 2005, BP's Texas City refinery exploded, killing 15 workers and injuring more than 170 in the blast. The explosion led to government investigations into BP's environmental risk management practices.

In March, 2006, one of the pipelines on Alaska's North Slope leaked over 200,000 gallons of crude oil onto Alaskan tundra. The leak was the result of corrosion.

In August, 2006, over half of the production from the Alaskan Prudhoe Bay field was shut down after severe corrosion was found in parts of the pipeline. Production was cut by a further 90,000 barrels a day after BP discovered a mechanical problem with a compressor.

A report in The Financial Times alleged that several BP employees reported that the company consciously portrayed the pipeline to be in better shape than it actually was. The report argues that the company tested areas they knew were in good shape and avoided corrosive sections of pipe. The Financial Times also claims that BP executives were warned about the corrosion two years before the company shut down half of Prudhoe Bay operations.

Additionally, BP traders were charged with manipulating the U.S. propane market. A class action lawsuit has been brought up against BP in response to these allegations.

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