Responders stop North Slope oil leak

Cornelia Mascio
Aprile 21, 2017

BP reported the leak and formed a "unified command", which included responders from Alaska's Department of Environmental Conservation, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and the North Slope Borough. The plan is to close the well, state officials said.

The well is about five miles from the airport at Deadhorse, a remote town in northern Alaska that has been the service center for tapping the Prudhoe Bay oil field, the largest ever discovered in the United States.

Pressure in the well was monitored all night and excess pressure released from the well.

The well that burst is in the Prudhoe Bay Oil Field, the largest oil field in North America. The well is operated by a London-based BP energy company. Output there rose to 565,000 bpd in March, its highest level since December 2013. That's still down by nearly three-quarters from the peak of more than 2 million barrels in the late 1980s.

A leak of natural gas from an Alaska North Slope oil well was plugged by pumping salt water down the well.

The volume of the leak had not been determined and the cause of the release was unknown, the department said. Fortunately, there were no reports on the matter of injuries or any kind of unintended harm towards the wildlife of Alaska. Specialists deployed by Boots and Coots, a well control company, were arriving in the area yesterday to help seal the well.

By looking at the aerial pictures that were released by the department, it seems that the release is under control and contained to the gravel pad only, which surrounds the head of the well. Both BP and ADEC, which used an airborne infrared camera to examine the scene, say that the vast majority of the spray landed on the drilling pad.

The safety valve at the top of the well has stopped one leak, but a second leak from the bottom continued as of Saturday afternoon. Afterwards, BP must coordinate a cleanup with its internal oil spill response organization and Alaska Clean Seas, a nonprofit that specializes in oil spill response.

Alaskan North Slope crude was valued at $1.80/bbl over US benchmark West Texas Intermediate on Monday, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. All comments are subject to editorial review.

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