BP's Alaska Well Stops Leaking Oil, But Continues To Release Gas

Gladys Abbott
April 21, 2017

Crews are on site and working to shut down the well, BP spokesman Brett Clanton said Sunday.

BP employees discovered an uncontrolled natural gas leak that was accompanied by the spray of crude oil.

BP, whose Macondo well in the Gulf of Mexico blew out and caused the largest oil spill in USA history, has responded to questions about the well, but information was limited and there was no estimate about volumes of natural gas and oil released. Officials say oil likely spilled only on the well pad and not nearby tundra.

According to Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation spokeswoman Candice Bressler, the well is back under control.

Responders were unsuccessful on Friday night due to damage to a pressure gauge.

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BP has previously seen a leak in the Alaska area as well. The Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation said Sunday that the well was still venting gas but not spraying any crude oil, adding that an investigation showed the crude.

Various state and federal agencies are gathering at BP's North Slope command post to respond to the situation. Output there rose to 565,000 bpd in March, its highest level since December 2013. The volume of the leak hasn't been determined, the US Environmental Protection Agency said.

In 2010, a BP-operated drilling rig called Deepwater Horizon exploded, killing 11 people and spilling almost five million barrels of oil into the Gulf of Mexico, making it the largest oil spill in U.S. federal waters.

The North Slope is also home to vast underground reserves of natural gas, but the lack of a gas pipeline out of the region has kept companies from bringing any of it to market.

No injuries have been reported. 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.

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