BP shuts down wells on North Slope after whistleblowers report leaks

Oil giant BP is voluntarily shutting down 12 oil wells on Alaska’s North Slope after employees alleged they were leaking. Whistleblowers told London’s Financial Times that in some places, insulating material used to keep pipes from freezing — usually crude oil or diesel — had spilled onto the tundra. BP spokesflack Daren Beaudo said the company’s daily monitoring had identified potential leaks in 57 wells, all but 12 of which had already been shut down, and insisted that the tundra had not been touched. “Even though we have no reason to believe that continued operation causes a danger to workers or the environment, we’re going to reconfirm [the wells’] integrity,” said Beaudo. The dirty dozen, which make up about 1/100 of North Slope oil production, will go back into service if cleared by inspection. Meanwhile, BP is facing a subpoena for a huge spill on the North Slope in March and a lawsuit alleging that it illegally manipulated the U.S. propane market.