Workers relieve pressure on leaking Alaska oil well

Prudhoe Bay

What's more, an earlier statement from the Unified Command Task Force tackling the spill said that the amount of oil leaked was small compared to the amount of gas that is being released. The BP-owned well was also leaking crude oil, which stopped after authorities activated a safety valve yesterday (April 16).

The spokesperson Brett Clanton, from BP's official team present there said the crew members used infrared cameras to see the condition of the leakage, which is found to be not that severe.

The well is operated by BP Exploration Alaska Inc., a subsidiary of BP. Oil droplets were found on about 1.5 acres of the well's drill pad, according to The Associated Press. Responders will try to confirm that crude oil did not reach nearby tundra.

A BP well on Alaska's North Slope is still spewing vented natural gas, following an oil spill from the same well on Friday. "However it is not now spraying crude oil".

Alyeska Pipeline Service Co.'s Trans-Alaska Pipeline System, which runs from Prudhoe Bay south to Valdez, isn't affected by this incident and is operating normally, Michelle Egan, a company spokeswoman, said by telephone Sunday.

In 2006, a BP oil pipeline in Prudhoe Bay ruptured and spilled 215,000 gallons of crude oil over the North Slope. The damage to the well is extensive: it has risen three or four feet out of the ground and its pressure gauge has been severely damaged, according to the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation (ADEC) on Saturday.

The statement says pressure in the well was monitored all night and excess pressure was released from the well.

The crude spray onto the well pad was discovered Friday morning, and capped on Sunday. "The release is ongoing and no volume is available at this time".

The oil company will ultimately have to "kill the well", an expensive and risky process that stops the extraction process.

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