BP races to shut Alaska North Slope well after finding a leak

Posted April 18, 2017

BP, whose Macondo well in the Gulf of Mexico blew out and caused the largest oil spill in US 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.

According to a Sunday report from the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation, the well is no longer spraying crude oil, as it was when employees of BP Exploration Alaska Inc. identified it on Friday. Workers from the Alaska Department of Conservation and the Environmental Protection Agency on Saturday, April 15, 2017, were able to connect hoses to valves that allow pressure in the well to be reduced, according to a statement from the state conservation department.

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United Kingdom oil giant BP has been engaged in controlling a damaged oil well on Alaska's remote North Slope over the weekend, after the well started venting natural gas vapours on Friday morning, according to the company and Alaska officials.

At the time, the well was spilling crude oil, but that plume did not leave the well pad, state regulators said.

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State officials say a cleanup will begin once the release has been controlled. Hilcorp Alaska has discovered several oil and natural-gas leaks in pipelines, but ice made had it impossible to fix the leaks. Back in 2009, a pipeline spilled some 1,100 barrels of crude in a BP-operated field. Responders were unsuccessful on Friday night due to damage to a pressure gauge.

BP has previously seen a leak in the Alaska area as well. In 2006, a BP well in Prudhoe Bay spilled about 267,000 gallons of oil, the largest in the region's history. The cause of the well bursting remains unknown. North Slope production was up to 565,000 barrels a day in March, its highest level since December 2013. To date, there have been no injuries and no reported impacts to wildlife.

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