top of page

This is a Halliburton external, abrasive jet cutter that has just come out of a fire in West Texas. Its mounted on the end of an athey wagon boom and has just been "seared, the asbestos wrapping around hoses still in tact. Those are 3/16ths nozzles and the pressure at the nozzle tips is 10,000 PSI. With a little 20/40 sand added to the mix this sumbitch will cut no time. Its bad ass. Its like the red laser beams in a James Bond movie only worse.

Halli had just started working on this jet cutter stuff in 1990 and some experimenting was done with one in Kuwait, 1991. A really good fella named Terry Edwards was involved in some of the original design work and operating the cutter. Terry was affectionately known as "Tiny" and he was pretty much always around when using one of Halliburton's jet cutters. He was a good hand, Tiny.

Tiny Edwards and Big Joe Carpenter; 1995

Before jet cutting technology was developed the common way to cut casing strings, or kelly/drill pipe in oil well fires, or to avoid an oil well fire in a blowing well situation, was to use abrasive wire rope from sand line drums, or swab rigs. The cable had to be looped around what you wanted cut and used as a "saw" by going back and forth, back and forth, like a band saw. One cut of say, two concentric strings of casing could take several days of around the clock sawing. The line had to be slipped constantly and tension between the two drums kept constant.

The big sand line cut below the drilling spool on the Devils Cigarette Lighter in 1962, for instance, took Red, Boots and Coots two full days, around the clock.

One of two sand line drums used in Algeria 1962 and

an example, right, of sand line cutting right below the B section on the same well. In the photo you can see the wire rope wrapped around the casing and actually in the sawing process.

All this important stuff has one purpose and that is to get the blowout flow going straight up, like a big bottle rocket, so to speak. In the really old days, if the well was already on fire, tough guys like Myron Kinley would simply try and blow the damn well head, or BOP off a well with a glycerin charge, to get the fire going straight up. They'd then shoot it again, if possible, to extinguish the fire. Then the real work would start trying to repair casing strings blasted to hell and back with explosives.

In this photo we are making the first cut on this particular fire in West Texas; the kelly that is still in the hole and draped over the bell nipple and rotary table. The Hydrill and BOP stack is directly under the rotary table, the substructure is melted. We've got water from two monitors directed at the jet cutter to help keep it from burning up. It took us 6 hours to get all this nippled up and mounted on the end of our athey wagon, ready to go...and about 20 minutes to make the cut.

We excavated around the wellhead and what was left of the BOPD stack while it was burning and were able to get a winch line off a dozer around the stack and bend it all over so as to make a second cut below the surface casing WH, something like this Halliburton photo, left, where a jet cut is underway on the casing below the wellhead assembly. With the casing exposed and flow and fire going straight up we were able to stick a venturi tube on it to get the fire above our heads. We finished excavating around the casing and removing debris. The second cut took about an hour.

The following morning we knocked the fire out with water and made our third and final cut of the surface casing and drill pipe, above. This cut took 40 minutes and Tiny and we all of his stuff was back on the road to Houston by noon. We cut the casing a final time with a pneumatic casing cutter to set a well head to cap to.

This is an inch and three quarter (1 3/4) flange bolt nut off a 13 5/8ths 10K PSI flange below a drilling spool (Louisiana 2003). The flange was cut with an abrasive jet cutter. "Washing" bolts off a big flange like this jet cutter beats the shit out having to cut all those bolts with a pneumatic hacksaw, by hand, under a big blowing well.

My buddy Wayne Lansford (Boots & Coots, Wild Well Control, Cudd Well Control) took this flange bolt off the same job in Louisiana, all buggered up by a jet cutter, and made a business card holder out of it for me. Very cool, uh?

Abrasive jet cutters are awesome...don't leave home without one.

bottom of page