JUNEAU, Alaska — State oil and gas regulators ordered for oil wells that share a similar design to one that failed earlier this year in northern Alaska to be shut in and reported to the state.
The Alaska Oil and Gas Conservation Commission called for the review of thousands of oil wells in the North Slope by the end of this year, Alaska’s Energy Desk reported .
The action comes after an oil well operated by BP Exploration Alaska Inc., a subsidiary of BP, leaked oil and natural gas in April. Employees had discovered uncontrolled natural gas flowing from the well house near the airport at Deadhorse. They then determined it was spraying a mist of crude oil into the air before it was plugged the next day.
BP officials said the leak occurred because a piece of a well casing buckled under pressure from thawing permafrost. The company then shut in five other wells that had a similar design.
Cathy Foerster, a member of the state regulatory commission, said the company was largely quiet on what they discovered from the investigation into the incident.
“When BP was in here last week, we asked them if they had shared the information with all of their operators, and they said they had only shared it with their co-owners,” Foerster said.
While it isn’t clear how many wells in the area share a similar design, Foerster said she was confident a review could be completed before the end of the year. She said the well that failed was of an older design.
“I don’t think many modern wells were drilled that way, but I don’t know,” Foerster said. “We’re doing this just to make sure.”
Information from: KSKA-FM, http://www.kska.org