A BP oil and gas production well in Alaska's North Slope blew out Friday morning, and on Saturday afternoon, the well was still not under control as responders fought subfreezing temperatures and winds gusting up to 38 miles per hour.
The Environmental Protection Agency says a crack in a BP wellhead near Deadhorse sent up a mist of crude oil on Friday before it froze over and an initial leak stopped. The Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation said Sunday that the well was still venting gas but not spraying any crude oil, adding that an investigation showed the crude.
The specific volume of the North Slope leak hasn't been determined and the cause of the release is unknown, the department said. So far no injuries or wildlife impacts have been reported. "The bottom leak has been reduced, but is now leaking gas as well as some minor amount of crude oil".
The well is too unsafe at this time for a response team made up of state and federal energy officials and BP employees to get near the well. 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. Dawn Patience, a BP spokeswoman said in an email on Sunday that the well has been closed off since Friday last week and the response to resolve this issue is still underway.
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. The production of the North Slope rose to about 565,000 Barrels per day in the month of March, which was the highest since the year 2013's month of December.
By Sunday afternoon in Alaska, that had been stopped.
Anchorage-based BP Exploration Alaska Inc., a subsidiary of BP PLC, is the owner of the well in the Prudhoe Bay oil field.