Workers relieve pressure on leaking Alaska oil well

Author

18 April, 2017

Pressure in the well was monitored all night and excess pressure released from the well. The department has not yet been able to estimate how much crude has been released, it said.

The crude spray onto the well pad, which occurred while the well in the Greater Prudhoe Bay area was venting gas, had stopped by Sunday afternoon. Back in 2009, a pipeline spilled some 1,100 barrels of crude in a BP-operated field.

Fossil fuel companies have long eyed portions of Alaska's North Slope now off-limits to oil and gas production, including the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, home to over 200 species of migratory birds and the last onshore area for polar bear dens.

"North Slope production rose to 565,000 barrels a day 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. The accident was the worst oil spill in the North Slope, but thankfully does not even come close to the millions of barrels that the Macondo well gushed into the Gulf of Mexico in 2010 when the Deepwater Horizon rig exploded, killing 11. At approximately 8:15 am, BPXA confirmed the crude spray from the top of the well house and reported the spill to ADEC via the Fairbanks spill reporting line and to U.S. EPA via the National Response Center.

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There were no reports of harm to nature or injuries.

Boots and Coots Services Inc., a well-control firm, will assist in operations to kill the well, according to the state DEC statement. BP said infrared cameras on a flight over the site appeared to confirm that the oil released with the gas was contained on the gravel pad surrounding the well head and the tundra had suffered no damage.

The Trans-Alaska pipeline system, which runs from Prudhoe Bay south to Valdez, is not affected by the incident and is operating normally.


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