VAN HOOK - Oil, gas and formation water spewed out, sometimes higher than utility poles, covering fields with a yellow mist Thursday at the site of a blowout at an oil and gas well near Van Hook.
The site is about 2 miles east of Van Hook, a resort community in southern Mountrail County along Lake Sakakawea. Van Hook, southeast of New Town, is on the Fort Berthold Reservation.
The well site is near Lake Sakakawea to the north. Officials at the scene said Thursday afternoon there was no threat to the public or the lake.
Submitted Photo • About noon Thursday, this well near Van Hook was spewing a yellow mist as the result of a blowout at the well site, shown in this photo by Glenda Baker Embry. The blowout occurred Wednesday night. Lake Sakakawea is about a mile from the well site or at the right of the photo.
Capt. Dan Murphy, a spokesman for the North Dakota Department of Emergency Services, said three sets of berms were set up surrounding the site. He said a backhoe bucket was being used to cover the well to stop the misting.
Kris Roberts, environmental geologist with the Division of Water Quality of the North Dakota Department of Health, said the bucket was being dropped over the well so the mist could be contained.
State officials said the wind was blowing the mist away from the lake. Roberts said they were ready to put booms on the lake if needed.
Kyle Waliezer, New Town, Rockies area superintendent for Slawson Exploration Co., and Roberts said filters had been placed in the draw to stop the mixture from reaching the lake.
Roberts said the well already had been drilled, fracked and crews were putting in the pipes to get the oil "when something went wrong."
Alison Ritter, public information officer for the North Dakota Department of Mineral Resources, said Slawson brought in Wild Well Control, a well control company based in Houston, to the site Thursday.
One observer said the well was blowing oil all night and the sound was loud.
Waliezer said Wild Well Control was brought in to try to "kill the well and shut off the flow."
The blowout occurred about 6 or 7 p.m. Wednesday. There were no injuries, officials said.
The well is on fee land on the reservation. Fee land is land that is not held in trust by the federal government.
Representatives from the Mineral Resources Department and Three Affiliated Tribes Energy Department were among those at the scene Thursday. Richard Pease, of the tribal Energy Department, said that department was making an assessment of the situation. Magna Energy Services was providing security at the site.
Ritter said the well is what is called a confidential well so details about it could not be released.
When an operator requests and is granted confidential (tight hole) status for a well, it restricts the state's ability to release information about the well. According to state law, the only information the agency can release during the confidential period is the name the operator, the well name and location, the spacing or drilling unit description, spud date (when they commenced drilling), the rig contractor, and any production runs (oil sold) from the well.
(Glenda Baker Embry, public information officer for the Three Affiliated Tribes, contributed to this story.)