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The Door To Hell

In a previous Oily Stuff post about an abandoned drilling rig along the Skeleton Coast of Namibia, I showed how some folks can seemingly walk away from anything without getting in trouble. This post is about a blowout crater near Darvasa in the Karakum Desert of Turkmenistan.

In 1971 a now defunct Russian company was drilling ahead at 4000 feet when they took a gas kick and ultimately lost complete control of the well. It broached the surface casing, swallowed the rig whole, and created a crater about 270 feet wide and 70 feet deep. There is surprisingly no other information, anywhere, about the event. In any case, the gas was sour, some hands thought it a good idea to set the crater on fire to burn the gas off; 47 years later the damn thing is still burning.

The well has been named the "Door To Hell." A Huffington Post reporter once was quoted as saying this is the "creepiest place on earth."

The big cheese in Turkmenistan wants to cover the hole up, as though that would solve the problem, but it has instead been named a major tourist attraction in that part of old Russia. Apparently one can smell the stench of rotten eggs from H2S gas several miles away.

On the other hand, if overnight my stuffing box rubbers go out and the next day I am left with something this:

That same day the Railroad Commission is all over me like white on rice.

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