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Alaska regulators order BP to plug and abandon 14 wells at Prudhoe Bay

State oil and gas regulators have ordered BP to plug and abandon 14 wells in northern Alaska that were identified as at risk of failure.

The Oil and Gas Conservation Commission has also ordered BP to gather additional information about wells at Prudhoe Bay after multiple wells failed, causing leaks, Alaska’s Energy Desk reported.

State and BP officials linked an April 2017 well accident that caused a days-long leak to thawing permafrost and the well’s design. The company then identified and shut in 14 wells that shared a design, indicating they were at risk.

An accident occurred last December at the one of the 14 wells, leading to another investigation.

In the order last week, the commission said BP has not proven that thawing permafrost will not cause more accidents at other wells with a common design, which accounts for most of the 1,800 wells at Prudhoe Bay.

"That's why we're ordering BP to gather additional data on those wells so we can gain an understanding of whether or not there is a risk associated with those wells also," said Cathy Foerster, a commission member. "We haven't had anything to cause us to believe that they do have a risk, but we just want to make sure they don't."

The company is working with the state to comply with the order, and it remains committed to operating in a "safe, reliable and compliant manner," BP spokeswoman Megan Baldino said.

BP is monitoring the 14 wells in real time, and their flowlines and well houses have been removed to prevent future accidents, the company said.

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