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It took two days, but an oil well that went out of control the Friday before Christmas five miles west of Watford City, ND, ended up plugged early Sunday night.

A crew from Wild Well Control was able to install a temporary plug at the well and all flow of fluids ceased, said Keith Schmidt, spokesman for well owner Newfield Exploration Co.

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A workover rig crew lost control of the oil well while trying to bring it from hydraulic fracturing stages into oil production.

The well had been blowing a geyser of oil, gas and salt water some 95 feet into the air and spreading contamination more than a mile downwind from the well site.

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Kris Roberts, environmental geologist with the state Health Department, said the initial height of the blowout was the result of intense pressure from the well and because the blowout forced the well pipe up out of the well and it ended up caught in the workover rigging.

Schmidt said the flow reduced considerably Sunday ahead of the temporary plug.

Roberts said the elevation and the wind caused much of the contamination to drift away from the well, covering a large area of agricultural land.

He said the workover crew had been flowing back frack fluids for five or six days, so it wasn’t clear whether any of the escaped fluids are from fracking, or were the oil, natural gas and salt water from the oil formation.

Roberts said he will take samples to identify the spilled fluids.

This is the second well blowout in the area this month. A Slawson Exploration Co. well near Lake Sakakawea, ND, spilled about 1,500 barrels of oil, gas and salt water. The company said they recovered most of the fluids and an environmental cleanup was under way.

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