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Oil well fire north of Arnegard finally capped

Posted 3/23/11 (Wed)

By Tina Foreman
Farmer Staff Writer

After burning for nearly two weeks, an oil well fire located north of Arnegard was extinguished on Friday.
The fire began when something went wrong during a fracing job on a location owned by SM Energy on Monday, March 7. Sanjel employees discovered a gas leak around 2 a.m. on Monday, and before they could fix the leak or determine the cause, an explosion rocked the location resulting in a fire that reached more than 30 feet in the air.
“Boots & Coots got the fire out on Friday by capping the well,” says Jerry Samuelson, McKenzie County Emergency manager. “The cap is only temporary, but the fire is permanently out.”
Since putting out the fire, Boots & Coots has dug down 20 feet, according to Samuelson, so they can cut off the damaged casing and weld new casing in its place.
“Once the new casing is in place, they will put on a new well head and be back in business,” adds Samuelson. “Basically, they are re-capturing the well in hopes of having it producing before too long.”
In addition to getting the fire out, SM Energy is also working to clean up any spilled oil and chemicals from the original leak.
“We are very pleased with SM Energy and their efforts to clean the site up,” adds Samuelson. “SM Energy has brought in their own environmental expert and he is working with officials from the North Dakota State Health Department to make sure that everything is cleaned up.”
According to Samuelson, SM Energy and the State Health Department have already begun soil testing to determine the extent of the spill.
“SM Energy thought ahead of time and put up some hay bale dykes to stop any runoff,” comments Samuelson. “I think the hay bales really worked to contain the spill.”
SM Energy is hopeful that the well will be back up and running within the next couple of weeks.