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Fayette County; 1986

This one was actually one of mine, a plugging job for Conoco, that told me the well had bridge plugs in it and all I needed to do was spot balanced cement plugs between columns of 9.3 mud. Bull shit. When this thing came to see us it about hair lipped us. It blew, hard, for 18 hours before we got it capped.

Conoco insisted I get a well control company immediately as it was raining all over traffic on State Highway 95. I had worked with Coots Matthews twice before, as a roughneck years prior, and he was my first and only choice. Coots remembered me and said because it was my well, he was coming too. It was great to see Coots again! This was my first encounter with David Thompson and James Tuppen, whom I later worked with when I begged David to let me go on some jobs with him as a part time, as needed well control hand. I became good friends with them both.

Because this well was within an hour and half of Houston a bunch of big-dog Conoco engineers and district managers came out, all of them offering opinions on what to do. When I called Coots it was about 9 PM in the evening and we talked about what needed to be done, WH sizes, threads, flanges, etc.; everything I needed to order in the way of a capping stack, etc. We got it straight, Coots and I, and he said he'd see me at first light in the morning.

That was not good enough for Conoco and they made me wake Coots up a couple hours later to tell him he needed to come now. Well, that pissed Coots off. He said, let me talk to one of them Conoco sumbitches, so I did. This engineer held the phone receiver about a foot away from his ear and didn't say a word while Coots let him have it.

The Conoco engineer set the receiver down in the cradle quietly, then turned around and told everybody in the field office, "Mr. Matthews said he doesn't work on blowouts in the goddamn dark and he'll be here in the morning at first light, to relax and leave Mike alone." That was that. Coots, David and Tup showed up at 6 am and we had it capped by 4:30 that afternoon.

I saw David Thompson tap on the slip bowl wedged in the Larkin WH on this well with a 4 pound hammer; it got launched 150 feet straight up in the flow. David never moved and it hit the ground with a thud about 20 feet from him. It weighted about 40 pounds and would have killed him instantly. I asked him later why he didn't run and he said "if you run you'll run right under shit like that; better to just stay put."

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