Alaska News

Repsol well officially plugged after North Slope blowout

According to a Sunday situation report from the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation, the Spanish oil company Repsol's Qugruk #2 Pad, the damaged North Slope oil well that burped drilling mud and natural gas after striking an unexpected pocket of pressure more than a month ago, has officially been controlled.

The gas kick struck while contractor Nabors Drilling was drilling the exploratory well on Feb. 15. The rig was shut down, and some 42,000 gallons of drilling mud shot back out the hole. The well continued to spew natural gas until the evening of Feb. 16, when it subsided on its own.

Even though the damaged well had stopped ejecting material, it wasn't considered officially in control until being plugged. Now that "mechanical well control" has been achieved, DEC says it will monitor the site and clean-up.

The borders of the drilling-mud spill aren't yet known because frigid weather and new snow have prevented crews from working quickly.

Clean-up equipment won't be operated until it warms up to -35, and field crews were on a weather hold until temperatures warmed to -45. At the time of the situation report, the temperature was -41.

The Alaska Oil and Gas Conservation Commission pulled permits for two other Qugruk wells on Feb. 22, pending a 30-day review for Repsol to reassess shallow gas hazards.

Read the report in .pdf form, here.

Craig Medred

Craig Medred is a former writer for the Anchorage Daily News, Alaska Dispatch and Alaska Dispatch News. He left the ADN in 2015.