​Alaska regulators order BP to plug, abandon 14 wells

Aerial view of BP Alaska's Prudhoe Bay operations. Image: BP

ANCHORAGE, Alaska — State oil and gas regulators have ordered BP to plug and abandon 14 wells in northern Alaska that were identified as at risk of failure.

The state Oil and Gas Conservation Commission has also ordered BP to gather additional information about wells at Prudhoe Bay after multiple wells have failed, causing leaks, Alaska's Energy Desk reported Tuesday.

State and BP officials linked an April 2017 well accident that caused a days-long leak to thawing permafrost and the well's design. The company then identified and shut in 14 wells that shared a design, indicating they were at risk.

An accident occurred last December at the one of the 14 wells, leading to another investigation.

In the order last week, the commission said BP has not proven that thawing permafrost will not cause more accidents at other wells with a common design, which accounts for most of the 1,800 wells at Prudhoe Bay.

“That's why we're ordering BP to gather additional data on those wells so we can gain an understanding of whether or not there is a risk associated with those wells also,” said Cathy Foerster, a commission member. “We haven't had anything to cause us to believe that they do have a risk, but we just want to make sure they don’t.”

The company is working with the state to comply with the order, and it remains committed to operating in a “safe, reliable and compliant manner,” BP spokeswoman Megan Baldino said.

BP is monitoring the 14 wells in real time, and their flowlines and well houses have been removed to prevent future accidents, the company said.

© 2019 The Canadian Press

Dear user, please be aware that we use cookies to help users navigate our website content and to help us understand how we can improve the user experience. If you have ideas for how we can improve our services, we’d love to hear from you. Click here to email us. By continuing to browse you agree to our use of cookies. Please see our Privacy & Cookie Usage Policy to learn more.