Alaska oil well leaking gas in northern part of state

BP Exploration Alaska Inc. told state regulators Friday that oil is spraying from a well onto a pad and possibly onto the snow-covered tundra.

The well is now venting gas, which caused a spray of crude to impact the well pad.

The safety valve at the top of the well has stopped one leak, but a second leak from the bottom continued as of Saturday afternoon.

The well, located in the Greater Prudhoe Bay area, was venting gas, which caused a spray of crude oil to impact the well pad.

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In general, oil companies have been producing oil and pumping associated natural gas back into reservoirs.

"At the risk of stating the obvious, we believe a well that still requires kill operations continues to experience some level of uncontrolled flow", Tudor Pickering Holt & Co., a Houston-based energy investment bank, wrote in a Monday note. Hilcorp Alaska has discovered several oil and natural-gas leaks in pipelines, but ice made had it impossible to fix the leaks. What's more, an earlier statement from the Unified Command Task Force tackling the spill said that the amount of oil leaked was small compared to the amount of gas that is being released. Well pressure was monitored through the night and excess pressure was bled off to keep it within a safe range. There have been no injuries and no reports of harm to wildlife. Because there is no pipeline for natural gas from Prudhoe Bay, companies pump oil and inject gas back into the wells. That helps enhance oil recovery but it is also because there is no pipeline to carry natural gas to markets.

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.

  • Ronnie Bowen