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A Tribute To Resistance

I like to write about my beloved oil and gas industry in the early mornings, over coffee, before the rest of the day starts, or sometimes with a scotch before bedtime. It is often a release for me and always I learn new things from my research for my writing.

My most viewed posts are often contentious pieces about tight oil and tight gas, decline, depletion, scarcity and US hydrocarbon exports, but they always invite the most criticism and, ocassionally, name calling. I think I am bringing awareness to people who don't understand oil and gas, then again I don't know if that is true or not. Now days everybody seems to know everything about oil and gas, even though they've never even seen it. And whoa Nellie, are there some assholes out there.

I enjoy writing about my other career as a well control hand, and about oilfield history, but I find most people don't read that stuff. Its hard to know what to do and sometimes I think I ought to just give it up and do more productive things in the mornings... like watch cable TV news. That however raises my blood pressure 40% and makes me want to go out and rip trees out by their roots.

Every now and then something like the above LinkedIn thing will come up. I wrote this post 4-5 years ago. James Regan is an old Brazillian BOP buddy that works all around the world so that well control hands don't have to. Its cool to write things people like to read. It may actually be one of the coolest things I do. So, I guess I'll keep plugging away at it...a sort of tribute to my resistance.

If you've seen this in the past year, sorry; one more time for James and I'll dump it.


The rig, Treasure Saga was built in 1984 in Sweden and eventually went to work for Saga Petroleum AS in the Norwegian sector of the North Sea.

In the fall of 1988 Saga was drilling the 2/4-14 well in the general area of Ekofisk Field in 68 meters of water. Its partners in the well were Statoil, Elf Aquitaine and Amerada Hess. The well encountered an overpressured zone at 4,733 meters in open hole below its 9 5/8ths intermediate casing shoe at 4,448 meters.

Multiple attempts were made to kill the well with mud before cementing the BHA in place in hopes of backing off the drill pipe and sidetracking. In the back off procedure the 5 inch DP was found to be obstructed. During coiled tubing efforts to remove the obstruction the coiled tubing became stuck and eventually parted. At that time PLT logs determined that a sub-surface blowout was underway. The DP and coiled tubing were both sheared and the sub-sea BOP stack closed.

The Treasure Saga was moved off the well to commence relief well operations by the John Wright Company. The rig, Neddrill Trigon was moved to the 2/4-14 well and tied back to the surface via a HP riser where Boots and Coots, Inc., including Boots Hansen and my friends, Martin Kelly and Joe Carpenter, assumed the responsibility of snubbing operations to fish the coiled tubing and DP. Months of impression block, overshot, dress mills and fishing efforts were made all via snubbing units with surface pressures ranging from 10K PSI to 2,900 PSI below both sub sea and surface BOP's, as well as the snubbing unit. Everything bad that can happen in the oilfield did happen on this well including, ultimately, parted DP, two separate fish stuck in open hole, parted 9 5/8ths casing and H2S induced casing failure above the part. Surface intervention continued while the 2/4-14 S well, using the Treasure Saga, drilled toward intersection of the blowout well. Additional PLT logs run in the 14 blowout well above parted DP showed the flow into the sub surface was over 18,000 BOPD.

In mid December 1989, almost 12 months after the initial kick occurred in the No. 14, John Wright used the 14 S relief well to intersect the blowout well at a depth of 4705 meters; it was killed and cemented to smithereens. bottom, up, as was the relief well. The Neddrill Tirgon was moved off the 14 (R) and the Treasure Saga moved back on the well to finish fishing, setting cement plugs and cutting and retrieving casing below the mud line for abandonment. The rig was released in April of 1990. Total accumulated costs to kill the blowout exceeded $285,000,000 USD.

The Treasure Saga thereafter worked along the Norwegian Continental Shelf until 1998 when she was bought by Transocean and rechristened the Transocean Winner. After upgrading in 2006 she continued her illustrious career in the North Sea under primary contract to StatoilHydro and was retired in 2016.

In tow to Malta to be decommissioned she broke loose her toe lines in heavy weather and on August 8, 2016 went hard aground on the Isle of Lewis in the Outer Hebrides off the Scottish coastline.

She lost diesel from a ruptured fuel tank. During extreme high tide she was refloated two weeks later but it required three attempts to pull her off the rocks. The Winner was then towed to a remote bay on the east coast of Scotland where even then she refused to go down without a fight. It took two attempts to load her onto a heavy lift ship and she almost capsized when ballast in her legs ruptured. Eventually she made her way to Turkey where she was finally cut up into scrap and laid to rest.


"A great ship asks deep water."

George Herbert

Treasure Saga, 1983-2016; North Sea


Author's note:

I heard stories of the Saga blowout while working for Boots and Coots, Inc. in the mid 1990's and while researching the event discovered the very same rig involved in that blowout eventually got her name changed and went aground off Scotland. It was a cool discovery and I had fun writing this piece. The rig, Treasure Saga had a troubled past, but she also made a great contribution to North Sea oil and gas development and I thought it ironic, and somehow a little sad, she seemed to want to 'fight' to the very end of her life. She...resisted. Maybe all this is a little more about me than this damn rig.

To write this I relied on stories from Martin Kelly, Boots Hansen's book, an SPE paper co-authored by John Wright, post geophysical reports regarding oil and gas migration from the blowout, actual daily well reports from Saga itself and the internet for photographs. My apologies to anyone actually involved in these events for whatever mistakes I may have made.



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