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Shit Happens

This photo below is of an oil fire for Jones Exploration in West Texas in 1995. It was initially problematic from the standpoint the fire was spread out, blowing from the kelly, around the kelly up thru the Hydrill and out both sides of the drilling spool. And it was a hot son of a bitch to get close to. It took Martin Kelly, Joe Carpenter, Danny Strong and myself a couple of days to even find a way in to start picking drilling rig debris away; it was Spring time and the wind was changing all the time. We sometimes moved monitor stands 3 times a day to stay upwind.

As we started moving away pieces of rig and got the fire going more up, than out, I snagged this photo (below) one morning upwind of 40 MPH gale out of the north. Here you can see the kelly sticking out thru the rotary table still sitting on top of the Hydrill and bent over, flow actually blowing out of the kelly itself. Most the substructure is now melted. We eventually used a jet cutter on the end of our athey wagon to cut the kelly, then made another cut on the casing below the B-Section to get the fire going completely straight up. We prepped the casing with the well still on fire and a venturi tube, it was easily extinguished with high volume water pumps, and eventually capped to the 9 5/8ths.

Nobody was hurt when the well blew out; the only "casualty," besides the rig and lots of monetary grief by the operator, was a brand new, 4 door F-250 pickup. The tool pusher had just gone to the dealership in Abilene to pick the truck up, parked it at the end of the catwalk to check on his rig... and the well blew out. The pickup had 137 miles on the odometer and paper floor mats on the floor when it got engulfed. That heap of black stuff in the foreground is all that was left. If you look closely you can still barely make out the truck's wheels.

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