Natural gas leak on North Slope continues; ConocoPhillips Alaska evacuates employees

Nuiqsut in 2018.
Nuiqsut in 2018.(KTUU)
Published: Mar. 8, 2022 at 8:39 PM AKST
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - A natural gas leak that was detected on Friday at a ConocoPhillips Alaska oilfield on the North Slope is still ongoing, which led the company to evacuate staff at the drill site on Monday.

The leak was first detected Friday, a ConocoPhillips spokesperson said on Saturday. It’s located at the CD1 drill site of the Colville River Unit, more commonly known as the Alpine Field, which is just eight miles north of the village of Nuiqsut.

On Monday, the company evacuated all non-essential personnel from the drill site and the Alpine Central Facility “out of an abundance of caution,” spokesperson Rebecca Boys said. On Tuesday, the Alaska Oil and Gas Conservation Commission said it is “closely monitoring” the situation.

“Based on its investigation to date, the Commission is unaware of any threats to public safety,” a statement from Commission Chair Jeremy Price reads. “As this matter is ongoing and an investigation is underway, the Commission cannot comment further at this time.”

The cause of the subsurface leak is still being investigated.

“There are no reports of injury or environmental impact to the tundra or wildlife,” said another ConocoPhillips Alaska spokesperson by email on Tuesday. “Air quality continues to be monitored, and no natural gas has been detected outside of the CD1 pad.”

He added that the company is conducting aerial infrared surveys to monitor the pad from the air.

At this time, the Alpine facility is still continuing “essential operations” and Nuiqsut is still being supplied with natural gas.

An “Alpine Response Team” has remained onsite to handle the leak, the spokesperson said, and an incident management team from Anchorage is providing support.

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