The Alaska Oil and Gas Conservation Commission has issued an emergency order to all North Slope oil and gas operators to shut in by the end of the year any wells that have a similar surface design to that of the Prudhoe Bay well which leaked oil and gas in April. BP determined, and AOGCC has agreed, that the leak from the wellhead of well 02-03 on Drill Site 2 resulted from the thawing and subsidence of the permafrost around the wellhead. The problem is related to wellhead geometry, in which the well's outer casing was set in the permafrost, AOGCC now says.
AOGCC requires all wells with a similar construction geometry to be shut in and that each operator submits a list of the impacted wells to the commission.
In July, following its determination of the cause of the spill, BP shut in all 14 of its wells that have the problematic wellhead design. At that time the company said that the impacted wells are old wells that have a particular three-casing design.
- ALAN BAILEY
See story in Nov. 5 issue, available online Friday, Nov. 3, at www.PetroleumNews.com