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[Photos] Gas Flow Stopped, But Response Continues for Loss of Well Control and Offshore Rig Fire

By MarEx 2013-07-26 08:33:00

Aftermath of fire aboard Hercules 265 seen Thursday morning during overflight observation. Photo Courtesy: BSEE

The Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE), U.S. Coast Guard, and Walter Oil & Gas Corporation (Walter) have stood up a Unified Command to continue overseeing and coordinating response efforts to secure the South Timbalier 220 natural gas well, following the loss of well control Tuesday. It was confirmed that the flow of natural gas under pressure stopped. The gas flow was feeding the rig fire, which has decreased to a small flame. The rig and natural gas well are located 55 miles offshore Louisiana in a water depth of 154 feet.

Work continues to secure the well, and all options are being considered for the most efficient and safe path forward. Walter submitted to BSEE an application for a permit to drill a relief well, which includes proposals for the cement and casing programs. BSEE engineers are currently evaluating the permit, and BSEE continues to review and approve all operational plans and procedures related to the response.

Hercules 265 Thursday morning after fire, that caused the derrick to collapse, was abated through natural bridging by sand and sediment that stopped the flow of natural gas from the well below. Photo Courtesy: BSEE

There are currently firefighting and other marine vessels on site involving personnel from Walter, Hercules, Wild Well Control, other professional engineering contractors, and relevant federal agencies. At present, response personnel are conducting aerial observations and monitoring the situation.

The 225-foot Coast Guard Cutter Cypress is onsite to assess the situation and enforce the 500-meter security zone around the rig.

Preliminary visual inspection of the area this morning indicated that the structural integrity of the rig remains intact. A slight sheen was detected on the water's surface and is dissipating quickly. Air and gas monitoring equipment is being deployed around the perimeter of the well location to help ensure operations to secure the well remain safe. Safety of personnel and protection of the environment remain the top priorities for responding to the event.

Light sheen near Hercules 265 Thursday morning following bridging to stop the flow of natural gas and suppress fire that started late Tuesday night. Photo Courtesy: BSEE

Walter Oil and Gas Corporation experienced a loss of control of Well A-3 at approximately 8:45 a.m. July 23 on an unmanned platform at South Timbalier Block 220 while doing completion work on the sidetrack well to prepare the well for production. The operator reported the safe evacuation of 44 personnel from the Hercules 265 jack-up rig. Coast Guard confirmed that the leaking natural gas ignited at 10:45 p.m. CDT July 23.

BSEE's investigation into the cause of the loss of well control continues in coordination with the Coast Guard. A Joint Information Center has been stood up in conjunction with the Unified Command.

Hercules 265 Thursday morning following bridging which stopped the flow of natural gas and suppressed fire that started late Tuesday night. Photo Courtesy: BSEE