Oil field company gets well under control near Watford City

2012-12-23T22:37:00Z Oil field company gets well under control near Watford CityBy LAUREN DONOVAN | Bismarck Tribune Bismarck Tribune

An oil well that went out of control late Friday night five miles west of Watford City was plugged early Sunday evening.

Keith Schmidt, spokesman for well owner Newfield Exploration Co., said a crew from Wild Well Control was able to install a temporary plug at the well and all flow of fluids was stopped.

A workover rig crew lost control of the oil well while trying to bring it from hydraulic fracturing stages into oil production.

The well had been blowing a geyser of oil, gas and salt water some 95 feet into the air and spreading contamination more than a mile downwind from the well site.

Kris Roberts, environmental geologist with the state Health Department, said the initial height of the blowout was caused by intense pressure from the well and because the blowout forced the well pipe up out of the well and it got caught up in the workover rigging.

Schmidt said the flow had been reduced considerably Sunday ahead of the temporary plug.

Roberts said the elevation and the wind caused much of the contamination to drift away from the well, covering a large area of agricultural land.

He said the workover crew had been flowing back frack fluids for five or six days, so it wasn’t clear whether any of the escaped fluids are from fracking, or were the oil, natural gas and salt water from the oil formation.

Roberts said he expected to be on site until Monday. He’ll take samples to identify the spilled fluids.

It is the second well blowout this month. A Slawson Exploration Co. well near Lake Sakakawea spilled about 1,500 barrels of oil, gas and salt water. The company said most of the fluids were recovered and an environmental cleanup was under way.

Reach reporter Lauren Donovan at 701-220-5511 or lauren@westriv.com.

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View the North Dakota Industrial Commission Department of Mineral Resources Oil and Gas Division oil well daily activity reports.

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