Alaska oil well leaking gas in northern part of state

BP Plc is working to secure an ongoing natural gas leak in a well on Alaska's North Slope that also sprayed crude oil for three days before that release was capped. The spill was discovered on Friday, and the oil leakage has since been contained but gas is still flowing from the well, according to the Alaskan Department of Environmental Conservation.

The well is too risky at this time for a response team made up of state and federal energy officials and BP employees to get near the well.

Closure of a safety valve stopped the spray of crude oil. There is no estimation of the volume of oil spilled or the amount of natural gas that is still coming from the wellhead. The department has not yet been able to estimate how much crude has been released, it said.

Two leaks have been identified on the well, one near the top and one further down the well assembly, BP said.




An oil well misting natural gas on Alaska's frozen North Slope.

In 2010, a BP-operated drilling rig called Deepwater Horizon exploded, killing 11 people and spilling almost 5 million barrels of oil into the Gulf of Mexico, making it the largest oil spill in USA federal waters. In an incident report released Sunday, however, the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation said that the spill does not appear to have spread past the drilling pad around the well, and that there have been no reports of injuries or harm to wildlife. Well pressure was monitored through the night and excess pressure was bled off to keep it within a safe range. In 2006, a BP well in Prudhoe Bay spilled about 267,000 gallons of oil, the largest in the region's history.

The leak comes as the remote North Slope, once home to America's biggest oilfields, enjoys a resurgence as producers work to boost output from aging wells and extend their reach to new supplies.

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