North Shore oil spill
Patrik Sartz, Alaska DEC via Alaska Dispatch
Oily brown where there should only be white.

BP sprayed a fine mist of oil, natural gas, and water over 27 acres of tundra on Alaska’s North Slope on Monday. It’s still not known how much vaporized oil and gas were spilled during the two-hour natural-gas pipeline accident at Prudhoe Bay, where a large oilfield is located, nor how long it will take to repair the ruptured pipe. But here’s what we do know, thanks to the Alaska Dispatch:

Such a large area of snow was covered because the leak occurred in the pipe’s 12 o’clock position, on top, and the pressurized gas sprayed crude oil and water into a strong wind, said Ashley Adamczak, a spokesperson with [the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation]. …

The damage is a little more than a mile from the 2006 leak of a transit line that ultimately became the largest recorded spill on the North Slope. That spill lasted five days and discharged 200,000 gallons over two acres. BP ultimately pled guilty to negligent discharge after failing to address corrosion. …

As for the cleanup, the hope is to get the oil and water removed before the snow and ice melts, and before migratory birds arrive in perhaps a couple of weeks, Adamczak said.

And this is something else that we know: The accident came a week after Alaska’s legislature gave tentative approval to a plan by BP, ExxonMobil, ConocoPhillips, and Keystone XL-backer TransCanada to build an 800-mile pipeline to transport natural gas drilled from the North Slope to an export terminal. The idea is to start exporting the natural gas to Europe and Asia via the $45 billion to $65 billion Alaska Pipeline Project by the mid-2020s.

What could possibly go wrong?

pipeline rupture
Patrik Sartz, Alaska DEC via Alaska Dispatch
The pipeline rupture that triggered Monday’s oil spill.