Workers relieve pressure on leaking Alaska oil well

Owen Stevens
April 17, 2017

A well on the North Slope of Alaska owned by BP (BP.L), the UK-based oil and gas company, is no longer spraying crude oil but is still emitting natural gas, the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation, or ADEC, said on Sunday. BP eventually agreed to pay $18.7 billion to settle all federal and state claims related to the spill. The bottom leak is now leaking gas as well as some minor amount of crude oil.

ADEC said of the two identified leaks, the one near the top is not actively leaking anymore, "The bottom leak has been reduced, but is now leaking gas".

The Environmental Protection Agency says a crack in the BP wellhead near Deadhorse sent up mist of crude oil Friday before it froze over and an initial leak stopped. The well structure is housed in a metal "well house" which is helping to contain any oil spray.

In an emailed statement, BP said the well, located at the Prudhoe Bay oil field on Alaska's North Slope, began to leak Friday. Natural gas was also being released uncontrollably.

In addition to causing the deaths of 11 workers, the disaster closed vast areas of the Gulf to fishing, killed and injured countless marine mammals, shorebirds, sea turtles and other wildlife, and damaged the Gulf's delicate web of life in ways that are still unfolding. Responders determined that the well "jacked up", rising between three to four feet vertically.

BP's operations in and around Prudhoe Bay account for about 55% of Alaska's oil and gas production, according to the company. No volume estimate for crude spray released is available at this time.

The agency says the initial oil release may have affected an area of about 1 ½ acres.

Other reports by VgToday

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