The Iraqis that blew this particular well up in Burgan Field, outside Kuwait City, in 1990, knew what they were doing and must have been grinning when they high-tailed in back to Iraq. The main road out of Kuwait back toward Baghdad would later become known as the Highway of Death. Warthogs worked the Highway of Death daily.
Lots of wells in Burgan Field were fairly easy to work on, fires could almost always be put out with water and tubing heads with flange to flange connections could be unbolted and re-capped to. Burgan is where some unknown companies, like the Hungarians, or the Kuwaitis themselves, could make a showing and get on TV...the big complicated messes that required blowing fires out with explosives, or this one above, were all assigned to Boots and Coots, Inc. and the Red Adair Company.
This particular well was called the "Longhorn" and the Red Adair Company drew this straw. It was challenging to reach step 1 in the process...getting the fire to go straight up, like a big candle.
My apologies to Danny, Richard and/or Brian but I think this was the late, Raymond Henry's job. I am not going to make a mistake about how this one was tackled but I suspect a shaped charge was set at the base of the casing head to get it to go up, instead of out. I was on one in once that when out, instead of up, and it was a bitch. It's very hard to stay cool on a well like this.
Oil fires are very hot. This Burgan oil was heavy in asphaltenes and big coke mounds would develop around a burning well head that was as hard as rock. It sometimes made getting to well heads impossible. Coots got to shoot into a coke mound one time with an Abrams tank and he said it was cooler than snot. He missed.
This Longhorn well, and a number of others like it, would have baked desert sand around the well head into solid glass six inches thick, slick enough to slip on and bust your ass. Black ice, it was called.
About 1.2-1.3 G BO was lost and burned in Kuwait from November of 1990 to November of 1991 when the last of 732 wells were capped.
Left to right, Raymond Henry, Boots Hansen, Joe Bowden and the man that ran the entire well control campaign in Kuwait in 1991, Larry Flak. They are now all deceased.