State agency orders review following accident at Prudhoe Bay well

BP’s operations center at Prudhoe Bay. (Photo by Elizabeth Harball/Alaska’s Energy Desk)

A state agency is holding a public hearing and requesting a field-wide review of all of BP’s oil wells at Prudhoe Bay following an accident last month.

According to Alaska Oil and Gas Conservation Commission records, on December 7, BP discovered one of its wells was leaking gas and a small amount of oil. BP reports it stopped the leak two days later. The company estimates two gallons of oil were spilled in the well house.

more severe incident happened in 2017 at a different BP well with a similar design.

BP linked the earlier accident to thawing permafrost and the well’s design, which led the well to jump up several feet from the ground, hit the top of the well house, and begin spewing gas and oil.

Following the 2017 incident, the commission ordered oil companies across the North Slope to review thousands of wells. BP reported 14 more at-risk wells, which were later shut in — that means the wells were no longer operational, but they could potentially be used to produce oil again.

BP confirmed the well that began leaking last month was one of the 14 at-risk wells.

The Alaska Oil and Gas Conservation Commission is now requiring BP to plug and abandon those wells, which means they will no longer be able to produce oil.

The Commission is in the process of investigating the December leak and is holding a hearing to address the incident next month.

In a statement, BP spokesperson Megan Baldino said the company is also investigating the accident, and is cooperating with the commission’s request for more information.

“BP is focused on operating Prudhoe Bay in a safe, reliable and compliant manner,” Baldino said.