North Dakota well leaking oil, gas and water

Staff Writer
Columbus CEO

WILLISTON, N.D. (AP) — Workers are attempting to contain an out-of-control oil well in North Dakota, authorities said Friday.

North Dakota regulators said a well near Watford City in the western part of the state has been leaking oil, gas and water since Thursday.

The Oil and Gas Division said 300 barrels of oil and water have been contained and recovered at the well location. They described the incident as a mechanical failure at a wellhead.

An unknown amount of mist also moved off of the well location. Regulators said they are trying to figure out where the mist settled.

But they also said there is no immediate health risk.

The well is about 4 miles northwest of Watford City and is operated by ExxonMobil subsidiary XTO Energy Inc.

In a statement issued late Thursday, Fort Worth, Texas-based XTO said it confirmed that its well was releasing "an oily water mixture and natural gas" at 10 a.m. on Thursday. The company did not provide any further updates on the situation Friday.

The Oil and Gas Division said the incident was first reported to them at 2 p.m. Thursday.

As of late Friday afternoon, the leak remained out of control, regulators said. Oil and Gas Division spokeswoman Alison Ritter said a well-control team was on location and trying to stop the leak.

North Dakota Department of Health Water Quality Director Karl Rockeman said his inspectors would not be able to begin their work until the well was brought under control and the danger of flammable leaked gas went away.