Out of Control ND Well Contained

Tuesday, October 21, 2014 @ 06:10 PM gHale


A mechanical failure at the wellhead created an out of control well in North Dakota Thursday and workers finally contained it by Saturday, officials said.

North Dakota oil regulators said the well that leaked oil, gas and brine for more than two days is now under control.

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Oil and Gas Division spokeswoman Alison Ritter said the XTO Energy Inc. well in McKenzie County was under control by 6:30 p.m. Saturday. The well had been leaking since at least Thursday morning.

The incident resulted in the release of 650 barrels of oil and 520 barrels of brine. Brine is an unwanted byproduct of oil production that is many times saltier than sea water, said North Dakota Department of Health.

The Oil and Gas Division said 300 barrels of oil and water ended up contained and recovered at the well location. They described the incident as a mechanical failure at a wellhead.

An unknown amount of mist also moved off of the well location. Regulators said they are trying to figure out where the mist settled.

They did say, however, there is no immediate health risk.

The well is about 4 miles northwest of Watford City and ExxonMobil subsidiary XTO Energy Inc. operates it.

Fort Worth, Texas-based XTO said it confirmed its well was releasing “an oily water mixture and natural gas” at 10 a.m. on Thursday. The Oil and Gas Division said they first got a report of the incident at 2 p.m. Thursday.

As of late Friday afternoon, the leak remained out of control, regulators said. Oil and Gas Division spokeswoman Alison Ritter said a well-control team was on location and trying to stop the leak.

North Dakota Department of Health Water Quality Director Karl Rockeman said his inspectors would not be able to begin their work until the well was under control and the danger of flammable leaked gas went away.



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