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Workers Evacuated Following Blowout on Rig

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Forty-seven workers were evacuated from the jackup Hercules 265 (250’ MC) offshore Grand Isle, Louisiana following a blowout Tuesday, according to media reports.

Efforts to regain control of the A-3 natural gas well at South Timbalier Block 220 that experienced a blowout are underway, rig owner Hercules Offshore said in a press release Tuesday. The company also has notified all necessary governmental authorities of the incident.

The U.S. Coast Guard evacuated workers on two lifeboats from the platform, according to New Orleans TV station website WDSU.com. None of the workers sustained any injuries, a Coast Guard spokesperson confirmed to Rigzone. The workers are being transported to a secure location, Hercules said in a statement. A Coast Guard cutter and two aircraft are headed out to the platform to conduct an overflight assessment, WDSU reported.

“Our first and foremost concern is for the safety of all personnel aboard our drilling rig and we have taken every necessary precaution to safely evacuate the rig,” said Hercules CEO and President John T. Rynd in a statement. “Furthermore, efforts are ongoing with our client, Walter Oil & Gas, to mobilize the necessary resources to regain control of the well and minimize any potential impact on the environment.”

Hercules Offshore jackup Hercules 265 has been drilling for Walter at South Timbalier Block 220 in 154 feet of water, according to Rigzone’s RigLogix database. The rig was scheduled to go into shipyard in mid-August following completion of its work with Walter.

Walter reported losing control of Well A-3 on an unmanned platform at South Timbalier Block 220, located 55 miles offshore Louisiana, while doing completion work on the sidetrack well to prepare the well for production, the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE) reported Tuesday.

The well is flowing gas, and no oil is being released, BSEE said in a press release. BSEE inspectors conducting an overflight reported seeing a light sheen one-half miles by 50 feet in area which is dissipating almost immediately. BSEE inspectors will remain at a nearby platform to keep abreast of the situation.

“BSEE is closely monitoring Walter Oil & Gas’ mobilization of its response efforts to stop the flow of gas and secure the well,” BSEE noted.

The agency also is closely coordinating its response efforts with the Coast Guard and other federal agencies.

Karen Boman has more than 10 years of experience covering the upstream oil and gas sector. Email Karen at [email protected].

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COMMENT BY AN EXPERT SOURCE

Hello John
 
No idea if you read about the Hercules blow-out?
 
Some explanations  TCP = Tubing Conveyed Perforating (these are big guns that are too big to run through the tubing on wireline so they are attached at the bottom)
 
POOH = Pulled out of Hole.
 
To me it is clear the AMERICAN crew had no idea what they were doing. This happens often with americans, first they do things then they think or call a lawyer when it goes wrong.
 
If you circulate to a different weight of fluid you must keep very close track of the volumes. I guess they just circulated and hardly watched the gauges. Or the gauges were faulty or not maintained.
 
And again a BOP where the shear rams fail. Americans do not learn easily it appears.
 
And the management is surprised. Several things fail each after the other. This was not meant to be. Mechanical failures or people failures….. I buy it that one can have occasionally a mechanical failure. But that is why redundancy is designed in. So again it is people failure. American people failure. And these cowboys are going to develop shalegas on a grand scale. I predict that in the first few years it will be fine with fairly close attention paid to design and execution of the jobs. But then the managerial cost savers, you know the MBAs  who like to see all boxes ticked, come in and they will employ cowboys. Within a few years the USA will experience fouling of their precious aquifers on a massive scale. And then the fingerpointing will start and the lawyers will get rich. But once an aquifer is soiled, it takes a while before it is clean again.
 
By that time Obama is writing his memoirs (with the help of gost writers) and making speeches (written by speech writers).
 
It is all very sad.

Summary of blowout information obtained through 6 am on 7/25/13 prior to any investigation:
Event occurred after TCP perforating.  Well started losing fluid, circulated lighter weight  completion brine, the well came in, and the shear rams did not cut the pipe.  Unknown at this time if TCP test tools were in the hole or not.  The rig crew tried to activate the BOP shear rams to cut a pipe and shut off the well before they were forced to abandon the rig.  Sources said the crew was at the bottom of a well and POOH when something went seriously wrong.  Reports say the rig crew had about 30 minutes to try to fix things before the unwanted incursion of natural gas turned into a full-fledged blowout.  Eric Smith of the Tulane Energy Institute said that also similar to BP, the Walter well had to suffer multiple failures, before the BOP ever was involved, to have experienced such a blowout.  “Something went wrong, either mechanical failures or people failures,” Smith said. “But the way these wells are designed you’re supposed to have redundancy in terms of pressure control. … What’s probably going to show up is that this thing failed, they probably could have controlled it but then something else failed, and something else failed behind that.”  Brian Kennedy, spokesman for Walter, said they are focused on controlling the well and the fire, and they will address what led to the accident later.  The rig suffered major damage as the cantilevered section melted in the hot flames. The blowout preventer has also fallen over, but is still in-tact on the platform above the water. And the thick column legs of the rig remain structurally sound, Kennedy said.  Smith pointed out that the investigation into what went wrong should be easier than the one for BP because fewer people – 44 crew members, rather than 226 on board Deepwater Horizon rig when it exploded – are involved and all of them escaped unscathed. At Macondo, 11 men, most of them on the key drilling team, didn’t survive to tell their side of what happened.  And depending on what happens with the fire, which shot flames 60 feet in the air Wednesday, the evidence should be better preserved in this case.  Smith said that’s true, but shallow wells are still complex systems that can fail, and a handful of incidents can seem to wipe away thousands of safely drilled wells – even though an analysis by WWL-TV found that Walter Oil & Gas has a better-than-average safety record. Government inspectors cited it for only six issues out of 270 components reviewed in 2012.  “The firm has a good reputation, Hercules has a good reputation, but when you’re dealing with things in the thousands, it only takes one problem to really set things back,” Smith said.

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