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Newfield Stops Flow at Bakken Well Oil Spill in North Dakota

Newfield Exploration Co. stopped the flow of oil, gas and saltwater leaking from a well in the Bakken shale formation in North Dakota yesterday afternoon, almost 48 hours after it began.

The well, in a remote part of McKenzie County, North Dakota, began releasing hydrocarbons at about 8 p.m. local time Dec. 21, Keith Schmidt, a spokesman for the Houston-based company, said in a phone interview. A filing with the U.S. Coast Guard’s National Response Center said the well was releasing 106 barrels of crude, 166,000 cubic feet of natural gas and 80 barrels of salt water per hour.

A workover rig was completing the well when the release started, Schmidt said.

Newfield has about 100,000 net acres leased in the Bakken play, and operates three rigs there, Schmidt said. The company’s other operations in the field haven’t been affected by the incident, he said.

Growing oil output in the Bakken, spurred by the increased use of horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing, has led a jump in U.S. oil supply. North Dakota’s portion of the Bakken produced less than 10,000 barrels a day in October 2006. This October it pumped out 682,000 barrels a day, according to the North Dakota Industrial Commission.

U.S. oil production increased to 6.863 million barrels a day in the week ended Dec. 14, the highest level since January 1994, Energy Department data show.

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