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Blown Out Gulf of Mexico Natural Gas Rig, Plugged but not Sealed

Federal regulators have confirmed that a natural gas well in the Gulf of Mexico that blew out in July has been plugged, although it may still be a long time until it is permanently sealed.

FuelFix reports that, on the morning of the 23rd July, whilst a Hercules 265 jack-up rig was drilling a sidetrack well to access an existing wellbore and tap into a separate section of the same reservoir, a blowout occurred.

44 workers evacuated the rig, owed by Walter Oil & Gas, when the well first started leaking gas, just hours before it caught fire.

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Natural Gas Rig Blowout
Natural Gas Rig Blowout, 23 July. (CS Monitor)

Drilling began on a relief well at the site in early August, with the aim of intercepting the original well and pumping it full of cement. At the same time other intervention plans were carried out, such as laying plugs, and pumping cement into the wellbore.

On the 6th September the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement announced that debris had been fully removed from the site, and that no more gas had been detected in the area, although they would continue to monitor the site for some time.

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The safety Bureau has even gone as far as to approve Walter Oil & Gas’s proposal to convert its relief well into a production well to extract the remaining natural gas in the reservoir below.

The Safety Bureau has now launched an investigation to discover the cause of the sudden release of natural gas at the site, why emergency equipment may have failed to prevent a leak, and why the gas ignited 10 hours after the leak began at the rig.

Suggested explanations could include the geology of the region, which is renowned for its sandy composition and propensity for washouts, when the sand falls away at the side of the well, creating a larger opening.

By. Joao Peixe of Oilprice.com



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