Oil well out of control in North Dakota

Sheen reported on river in western part of the oil-rich state.
By Daniel J. Graeber Follow @dan_graeber Contact the Author   |   Oct. 20, 2015 at 8:43 AM
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BISMARCK, N.D., Oct. 20 (UPI) -- An oil well in western North Dakota is out of control at least three days after a spill was reported, the state Department of Health reported.

The Health Department said it was notified of the spill by Oasis Petroleum, which said it lost control of the well Saturday night local time. Bill Suess, a spill manager for the department, was quoted by the Grand Forks Herald as saying about 1,760 barrels of oil were recovered so far from the well site.

"It's a significant leak," he said.

There was no statement on the spill from Oasis Petroleum. The Health Department said light sheen was observed on the White Earth River a little less than a quarter mile away from the well.

"[Containment] booms were placed across the river to help keep the spill material from migrating downstream," the department said.

In May, Oasis Petroleum reported its fourth release of brine, known also as produced water, in the state this year.

Energy companies inject brine, or salt water, to improve oil and gas production from shale deposits. The Federal Environmental Protection Agency said brine may contain toxic metals and radioactive substances that can be "very damaging" to the environment and public health if released on the surface.

Oasis increased net daily production from its portfolio by 35 percent from 2013 levels to 45,656 barrels of oil equivalent last year. Close to 90 percent of that is in the form of oil. Full-year 2015 production is expected in the range of 45,000 to 49,000 barrels of oil equivalent per day.

In a separate statement, the North Dakota Department of Health said about 300 barrels of oil were spilled in nearby Williams County at a site operated by Murex Petroleum. About 60 barrels have been recovered so far.

"The spill was discovered on Oct. 16 and is suspected to have been caused by vandalism," the state said. "Seals were broken on two tanks that contained the oil."

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