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Oil company works to contain leak in Alaska's North Slope

Posted August 10

— A Texas-based oil and gas company that last year said it discovered at least 6 billion barrels of oil under its land in northern Alaska is cleaning up more than 7,000 gallons (26,500 liters) of oil that leaked from a well.

Caelus Energy originally thought the leak in mid-June was just 5 gallons (19 liters, Alaska's Energy Desk reported (http://bit.ly/2vRX1SC ). The Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation thinks most of the leak was contained to the gravel pad, but about 3 gallons (11 liters) of oil made it out to the tundra, said Tom DeRuyter, who is overseeing the response to the leak.

"I don't want to minimize the size of this spill — that was a lot of oil that came out of this well," DeRuyter said. "It was something that happened without notice and it took a long time to really understand what had happened and for everybody to react accordingly. And that is very unusual."

Caelus officials declined to be interviewed, but the company issued a statement saying it is working with the state department to minimize damage. The oil came from a well that was drilled and plugged in 2013, the company stated.

The leaked oil is not crude. It's a mixture of fluids Caelus put in the well, described by the state as mineral oil and "diesel freeze protect fluid."

Cleanup is ongoing.

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