BP says crews brought leaking Alaskan well under control

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. 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. "All necessary notifications have been made to state and federal regulators".

ADEC said of the two identified leaks, the one near the top is not actively leaking anymore, "The bottom leak has been reduced, but is now leaking gas".

But the release of vented natural gas means that the well is still leaking methane, a potent greenhouse gas that traps heat 86 times more effectively than carbon dioxide over a 20-year period, into the atmosphere.

The network said other quantities of natural gas were leaking from the site along with crude oil and investigations were underway to find out the causes of the accident. Back in 2009, a pipeline spilled some 1,100 barrels of crude in a BP-operated field. The second leak is still leaking natural gas, as well as a small amount of crude oil said BP.

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No injuries have been reported.

"The top leak was misting oil in conjunction with releasing natural gas", the department said, but "the activation of the surface safety valve has stopped the release from that point". Well pressure is being monitored and excess pressure is being bled off to keep it within a safe range. That helps enhance oil recovery but it is also because there is no pipeline to carry natural gas to markets. The authorities have not established yet, what prompted the well to discharge oil and gas.

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

  • Darren Santiago