Alaska North Slope natural gas leak under investigation | nation

By BECKY BOHRER – Associated Press

JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) — Authorities are investigating a natural gas leak discovered last week at a ConocoPhillips Alaska oil drilling site on Alaska’s north slope, officials said.

Grace Salazar, a special assistant for the Alaska Oil and Gas Conservation Commission, said Wednesday that the commission, which oversees oil and gas drilling in the state, is investigating the matter.

The leak was spotted early last Friday, according to a statement from ConocoPhillips, which said it took steps Monday “as a precaution” to move non-essential personnel from the area because it was described as an underground gas release drilling site.

The company said in a Tuesday statement, delivered to The Associated Press by spokesman Michael Walter on Wednesday, that there have been “no reports of injuries or environmental impacts on the tundra or wildlife.” Air quality continues to be monitored and no natural gas has been detected outside of the CD1 pad.”

The company described the gas leak as below ground and said the cause is being investigated. There was no estimate of the amount of gas released. Walter responded to additional questions that the company had no additional information to disclose.

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A natural gas leak falls under the regulatory authority of the Alaska Oil and Gas Conservation Commission, said Laura Achee, a spokeswoman for the state Department of Environmental Conservation. She said the Department of Environmental Conservation is monitoring the situation.

ConocoPhillips’ Colville River Unit is commonly referred to as the Alpine. According to the company, it is 13 kilometers north of the Inupiat community of Nuiqsut. City officials did not immediately return a message to The Associated Press.

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