Company Must Submit Follow-up Plan After Blowout

WATFORD CITY, N.D. – Whiting Oil and Gas will submit an assessment and monitoring plan after an oil well blowout sprayed some brush and trees last week, the North Dakota Department of Health said.

The total amount spilled on the ground from the Feb. 13 incident is estimated to be 25 barrels of oil and 25 barrels of other fluid, said Kris Roberts, with the Division of Water Quality. The spill was contained within the berm of the well facility.

The well continued to be out of control for more than 24 hours, but most of the release was diverted to tanks and hauled away from the well site. A mist affected an area about 300 feet from the well, Roberts said.

An estimated three to five barrels sprayed on top of the frozen Cherry Creek and cleanup crews will remove the ice and dispose of it, Roberts said. The creek was “totally frozen” and there was no pooling of oil on top of the ice, he said.

Some vegetation on both sides of the creek also will be removed and disposed in a special waste facility, Roberts said.

The company will submit an assessment and monitoring plan to the health department and the Department of Mineral Resources Oil and Gas Division regarding some brush and trees that were sprayed, Roberts said.

A leak in the seal of the blowout preventer caused the incident, a Whiting spokesman said last week. Whiting flew in a crew from Wild Well Control from Houston to gain control of the well.

Crews had regained control of the well by 7:45 p.m. Friday, said Alison Ritter, spokeswoman for the Department of Mineral Resources.

The Department of Mineral Resources also will continue to investigate the incident and assess whether a fine is warranted, Ritter said.

No injuries were reported.