BP kills Alaska well after capping oil, natural gas leaks

BP Exploration Alaska Inc is trying to close off a well on Alaska's frigid North Slope after a leak was discovered Friday morning.

The Environmental Protection Agency said a crack in a BP wellhead near Deadhorse sent up mist of crude oil on Friday before it froze over and an initial leak stopped.

Responders on Saturday night were able to enter the well house and connect hoses to valves.

The volume of the leak had not been determined and the cause of the release was unknown, according to a statement from the state's Department of Environmental Conservation. So far, they report that no one has been injured and no wildlife impacted. Based on aerial pictures, the release appears to be contained to the gravel pad surrounding the well head and hasn't reached the surrounding tundra, BP said in a statement.

Alaskan and federal officials had identified two leaks spewing methane gas which is linked to climate change.

A spokesman for Alaska's local authorities said the clean-up would only begin after the leak from the oil well had stopped. Both BP and ADEC, which used an airborne infrared camera to examine the scene, say that the vast majority of the spray landed on the drilling pad. According to the report, BP plans to fly over the area to assess the impact of the spill. In 2006, a corroded pipeline released almost 5,000 barrels (bbl) of crude oil, the largest oil spill in the North Slope at the time. Eleven people died; 3.19 million barrels of oil leaked into the Gulf of Mexico; and Native Americans saw their sacred land and seas covered in oil after the incident. Output there rose to 565,000 bpd in March, its highest level since December 2013.

Three years earlier, again a pipeline - a corroded one - spilled 4,800 barrels of oil.

  • Todd Kelly