Posted 2/18/14 (Tue)
By Stephanie Norman
Farmer Staff Writer
An uncontrolled well blowout incident four miles south of Watford City on Feb. 13, resulted in surveillance by the North Dakota Department of Mineral Resources Oil and Gas Division.
Whiting Oil & Gas operates the well, which is located next to Cherry Creek. They were working with contractors to regain control of the well.
“Due to the high amount of pressure these wells have, there is a threat to workers on location when a well loses control,” Lynn Helms, director of Mineral Resources, said. “However, because fluids are being controlled, the environmental impact is greatly reduced.”
The well has a three-part, blowout preventer, but the lower portion failed, according to Helms.
Nearly 200 barrels per hour flow from this well, Helms reported. For the most part, the oil had been flowing into tanks.
However, a small amount of fluid did mist off location onto the snow and ice-covered Cherry Creek, Helms said.
“Some mist did get on the snow, which sits on top of a layer of ice on Cherry Creek,” Helms said. “Cherry Creek can be cleaned before it melts; that’s one good thing about having ice in North Dakota.”
According to a press release from the Department of Mineral Resources, all fluids were being diverted to tanks and hauled away. A quarter-mile radius around the site is to be cleaned as well.
“As we investigate this incident, we will look really hard into the cause,” Helms said. “There were no injuries and no signal of harmful environmental impact.”
The Department of Mineral Resources will continue to work on site with the Department of Health and Whiting Oil & Gas to monitor well control efforts and clean-up.