This winter Repsol has drilled three exploratory wells on the North Slope of Alaska, in the Colville River Delta, all part of ambitious plans to set up drilling operations in the area. Two of the wells have been fully completed and are now in a testing phase before they can begin extracting oil. During the flow-back test of one of the wells a hose failed under pressure and sprayed nearly two thirds of an acre with a mixture of crude oil, drilling fluids, diesel, and contaminated water.
The Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation confirmed that just before 2.30am on Tuesday morning 6,600 gallons spilled onto the snow covered tundra at the Repsol well located 18 miles northeast of the village of Nuiqsut.
Related article: Number of Oil Spills Expected to Rise if Keystone XL is Rejected
The transfer hose connecting the well to a 17,600 gallon storage tank failed during the test and sprayed oil all over the snow. Once the pressure had died down fluids from the storage tank then drained out of the hose.
Repsol were quick to respond and managed to contain the spill in a small area and then pick most of it up with a vacuum truck. Repsol still has to remove some contaminated snow but Jan Sieving, the vice president of public affairs, stated that the spill should be cleaned up by Wednesday.
Whilst drilling in the same area last winter Repsol also suffered a spill when a release of natural gas caused a blowout at a well, spewing 42,000 gallons of drilling mud across the snow.
By. James Burgess of Oilprice.com
James Burgess studied Business Management at the University of Nottingham. He has worked in property development, chartered surveying, marketing, law, and accounts. He has also…