A well operated by BP Exploration Alaska Inc. on Alaska’s frigid North Slope is no longer spraying crude oil after leaks were discovered Friday morning.
The crude spray onto the well pad, which occurred while the well in the Greater Prudhoe Bay area was venting gas, had stopped by Sunday afternoon. A second leak at the well was emitting gas at a reduced rate, the state’s Department of Environmental Conservation said in a statement. Well pressure was monitored through the night and excess pressure was bled off to keep it within a safe range.
The volume of the leak hasn’t been determined and the cause of the release is unknown, the department said. There have been no injuries and no reports of harm to wildlife.
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. The well has been shut in since Friday and the response is ongoing, BP spokeswoman Dawn Patience said by email Sunday.
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. North Slope production rose to 565,000 barrels a day in March, its highest level since December 2013. It’s another sign, along with multibillion-barrel discoveries in recent months, that the area may be reversing decades of declining volumes and investment.
Alyeska Pipeline Service Co.’s Trans-Alaska Pipeline System, which runs from Prudhoe Bay south to Valdez, isn’t affected by this incident and is operating normally, Michelle Egan, a company spokeswoman, said by telephone Sunday. Alyeska is a joint partnership led by the North Slope’s top producers, BP Plc, Exxon Mobil Corp. and ConocoPhillips.
Alaskan North Slope crude was valued at $1.90 a barrel over U.S. benchmark West Texas Intermediate on April 13. It has averaged a $1.16 premium to WTI this year.