The Trans Alaska pipeline, which carries some 630,000 barrels of oil a day from Alaska’s North Slope, temporarily restarted at a lower-than-normal rate Wednesday.

The news sent oil prices down, ending a run of several days of increases. A barrel of Brent crude for February delivery fell 12 cents to $97.49 in London trading Wednesday, following an increase of $1.90 a barrel Tuesday. But shares in troubled oil giant BP PLC, which is the largest shareholder in the pipeline, showed little reaction, trading at 499.5 pence, down 0.5 pence.

Most Alaska oil production has been shut in since Saturday as the operator of the Trans Alaska Pipeline has scrambled to replace a section of damaged pipe that is crucial for permanently restarting the pipeline system.

“The company’s Operations Control Center began the start-up sequence of opening valves and bringing pumps on line at approximately 7 pm Alaska Standard Time [0400 GMT],” Alyeska Pipeline said in a statement Tuesday.

“The pipeline will run at a reduced rate for several days while a bypass segment is staged for installation,” said the statement. Once the bypass segment of pipeline is ready, the pipeline will shut down again for it to be installed, it said.

Alyeska President Tom Barrett said in the statement that “tough work remains in the days ahead.”

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