OIL: A Pipeline To Nowhere?

The great Alaska pipeline appears to be jinxed. In its first month of operation, the $10 billion project has been beset by both mechanical breakdowns and an embarrassing dispute over what to do with the oil when it begins pouring out of the 800-mile line.

In a 28-day period, the line has suffered five physical mishaps, three of which caused shutdowns lasting a total of 13 days. The latest accident occurred last week when an earthmover burying part of the 48-in. pipeline struck a valve. That set off a gusher that spewed hot black goo over 15 acres of surrounding...