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Leaking wellhouse venting gas, no longer spraying crude oil

Leaking wellhouse venting gas, no longer spraying crude oil”

A crack in the BP wellhead near Deadhorse sent up spray of crude oil Friday. The spray of crude, along with "minor" oil leakage over the past few days, was fairly isolated and stopped leaking altogether Sunday, according to a statement from the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation. BP was fined $255 million by the state of Alaska for negligence in their maintenance of Prudhoe Bay pipelines.

BP has reported to regulators that the crude spray has landed on the drilling pad but it remains unsafe to approach the well and determine whether the crude spray has affected tundra in the area.

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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 well is part of the Prudhoe Bay field, which in March produced an average 315,395 barrels a day, according to data from the Alaska Department of Natural Resources. Fox News is reporting there are actually two leaks - one near the top and one further down the well assembly, says BP. The department has not yet been able to estimate how much crude has been released, it said. The well is operated by a London-based BP energy company. There have been no injuries and no reports of harm to wildlife. Responders attempted to secure the well last night, however, this operation was unsuccessful due to safety concerns and damage to a well pressure gauge.

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On Monday, almost three days after the leak was found, ADEC announced the unified command had to managed to "kill" the well overnight and end the gas leak. Because there is no pipeline for natural gas from Prudhoe Bay, companies pump oil and inject gas back into the wells. Once well control has been achieved, BPXA will work with their Oil Spill Response Organization, Alaska Clean Seas (ACS), to delineate the impacted area.

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