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Pucker Factor

This is a cool photograph. Its obviously uncontrolled water flow from a producing well (workover rig with the floor chained back, not a drilling rig).

Red Adair was quoted several times, including in his book, An American Hero, that often when he went on a blowout and found the well on fire he was, in a sense, relieved. By that he meant the worse that could happen had already happened. This statement stems from dealing with blowing wells where the ignition factor, for whatever reason, was very high and when up close working on it the well might actually catch fire. There is no higher pucker factor in the well control business than being up under a rig floor, standing knee-deep in condensate (gasoline) and working on a well that is blowing so hard iron above you is clanging against each other, or rocks are being blown out of the well into steel and potentially about ready to spark and ignite the entire shit-a-rie. The great Devils Cigarette Lighter fire in Algeria in 1962-1963 actually caught fire, within minutes of Coots being in the derrick, from a dry desert wind that caused static electricity.

I think given the water flow from the well in this photo the worse than can happen has already happened. Its loud, cool looking and gives folks goose bumps to get that close to a blowout...but there is no pucker factor here. Somebody other than a well control hand likely took this photo.

Well control hands rarely, if ever, have time to take photographs up this close. They are charged with a no-nonsense, get the well fixed as soon as possible and get the hell back to Houston, task and they take that task seriously. One of my biggest regrets in documenting events in the well control industry is that not enough photos were taken, or were taken too late in the control procedure, and very little video was taken. Most photos and video that exist are poor quality and were taken by folks watching from a thousand yards away. I snuck some photos in now and then, but they were not enough and I did not give them enough attention for quality and context, etc.


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