Leaking BP Alaska well located on North Slope
UPDATE: BP reports the well that leaked natural gas and crude has been capped by Halliburton’s well control specialists.
BP says it is working to secure an natural gas leak that was detected at a company well located on the North Slope late last week. The leak from the BP Alaska well also sprayed crude oil for three days before being capped.
The company plans to close the well located near Prudhoe Bay once the leak has been capped, according to Alaska officials.
The crude spray onto the well pad was detected on Friday morning and capped on Sunday. According to the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation (ADEC), a gas leak flowing at a reduced rate was also discovered.
Currently, well pressure is being monitored and excess pressure is being bled off.
An infrared image shows the crude spray plume likely did not leave the well pad, however, the situation is not yet safe for responders to access the area to determine if there were any impacts on nearby tundra.
Two leaks have been identified on the well, one near the top and one further down the well assembly. The top leak misted oil as well as natural gas, but BP was able to activate the surface safety valve to stop the leak.
The bottom leak is still active and leaking gas as well as a minor amount of crude oil. According to the company, the well structure is housed in a metal well house which is helping to contain the oil spray.
ADEC and the EPA have mobilized response personnel to the Unified Incident Command Post located on the North Slope. Crews did try to secure the well on Friday night, however, safety concerns and damage to a well pressure gauge halted the operation.
The state and company are monitoring air quality near the well. The Unified Command consisting of responders from Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation (ADEC), US EPA, the North Slope Borough, and BP Exploration Alaska (BPXA) is working to come up with a plan to bring the well under control. Once that has been achieved, BPXA will work with the Oil Spill Response Organization and Alaska Clean Seas to investigate the impacted area.
There is no estimate of the size of the spray at this time, nor has a cause of the leak been established. Clean up plans will be developed through the Incident Command System and with guidance from the Unified Command.
According to a joint press release issued by state agencies and the company, no injuries and no impacts on animals have been reported following the leak.
In a Bloomberg report, Michelle Egan, spokeswoman for Alyeska Pipeline Service Co’s Trans-Alaska Pipeline System which transports crude from Prudhoe Bay to Valdez, says the pipeline system has not been affected by the leak and is operating normally.