Oil well in Alaska shut down after oil spill - still spewing gas

The leakage from an oil well in the direction of the cold arid tundra plains in the north, but the volume of leaks so far is still unknown, the USA news network ABC News reported.

Anchorage-based BP Exploration Alaska Inc., a subsidiary of BP PLC, is the owner of the well in the Prudhoe Bay oil field.

The volume of the leak hasn't been determined and the cause of the release is unknown, the department said. The Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) says employees discovered the "uncontrolled gas release" from the top of a well house at 7:30 a.m. Friday.

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The well is too risky at this time for a response team made up of state and federal energy officials and BP employees to get near the well.

Alaskan and federal officials had identified two leaks spewing methane gas which is linked to climate change. So far no injuries or wildlife impacts have been reported. The oil spray ended Saturday, but the well remained out of control and vented gas through the weekend.

It isn't clear what caused the leak in the oil and natural-gas production well, about five miles from the airport for Deadhorse, a town devoted to servicing the giant Prudhoe Bay oil fields, which began producing 40 years ago. The well structure is housed in a metal "well house" which is helping to contain any oil spray. Responders were unsuccessful on Friday night due to damage to a pressure gauge.

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ADEC and U.S. EPA have mobilized response personnel to the Unified Incident Command Post located on the North Slope.

"The area impacted is limited to gravel", says Candice Bressler, spokesperson for ADEC. The infamous Exxon Valdez, which in 1989 spilled tens of millions of gallons of oil into the Gulf of Alaska, was carrying oil extracted from Prudhoe Bay. The authorities have not established yet, what prompted the well to discharge oil and gas.

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