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Oil spill reported on North Slope, volume unknown

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In an emailed statement, BP said the well, located at the Prudhoe Bay oil field on Alaska's North Slope, began to leak Friday.

The leak was discovered on Friday and a team from BP, the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation (ADEC), U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and local government was brought in to coordinate efforts.

Workers from the Alaska Department of Conservation and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency on Saturday night were able to connect hoses to valves that allow pressure in the well to be reduced, according to a statement from the state conservation department. There had been no injuries and no reports of harm to wildlife. The deadly Deepwater Horizon accident in the Gulf of Mexico forced BP to sell billions of dollars in assets and set aside more than $50 billion to pay for damages.

The department says the well will not be officially secured until a mechanical plug is put in place.

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But the release of vented natural gas means that the well is still leaking methane, a potent greenhouse gas that traps heat 86 times more effectively than carbon dioxide over a 20-year period, into the atmosphere. Fox News is reporting there are actually two leaks - one near the top and one further down the well assembly, says BP.

BP and state regulators are investigating the cause.

North Slope production rose to 565,000 barrels a day in March, its highest level since December 2013.

The crude spray onto the well pad, which occurred while the well in the Greater Prudhoe Bay area was venting gas, had stopped by Sunday afternoon. "The bottom leak has been reduced, but is now leaking gas as well as some minor amount of crude oil". Afterwards, BP must coordinate a cleanup with its internal oil spill response organization and Alaska Clean Seas, a nonprofit that specializes in oil spill response.

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