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Casing Cutters

Here is a little oil well fire I was on in West Texas, some 25 years ago.

Actually, it wasn't so little at first; for the first 2 days or so it was a big nasty, spread-out son of a bitch. And hot, yikes. Oil fires are hot.

We cleared away debris, cut the BOP stack off with a jet cutter on the end of an Athey boom then stabbed a venturi tube over the flow to keep the well burning as long as possible. Once the capping stack was designed, built in Houston and on location we knocked the fire out with water.

The 8 5/8ths surface casing was bent below ground level from the weight of the BOP stack leaning over in the fire; we dug around the casing with a track hoe and made a rough cut of the 8 5/9ths casing with the kelly still in the hole, above. All this shit is chained down the best you can because once the cut is made, stuff will get slung up in the blowout flow and hair lip a fella if you aren't watching.

Before we can install a well head to the 8 5/8ths casing with inverted slip segments and a flange to to cap to we needed to cut the 8 5/8ths casing cleanly. So, in this photo Joe Carpenter, right, the infamous Sammy Richmond and I we are installing a neat devise called a pneumatic casing cutter. It clamps to the casing, is leveled properly and when engaged remotely the cutting wheel tracks around the casing making a very clean, level cut, just like it came out of the pipe yard. Its neater than snot, these casing cutters. Adair used a giant one in Algeria in 1961.

Joe Carpenter is watching the cutter track, above; you can see the air hose on the right. Once cut this little piece of casing flew about 80 feet in the air. Its sort of understood that when stuff like that gets ejected into the blowout flow there is no use running, best just hold your ground and hope for the best. If you see it falling your way and are about ready to get your head bashed in a fella then has to do whatever is in his heart to do. Generally speaking, haulin' ass is always a viable option.

Capped, left.

Remember, when its blowing and/on fire they want you on location ASAP and no expense is spared. First Class commercial, private jets, helicopters, cars with flashing lights...whatever it takes.

Once your done with the job and its pumped dead, nobody much gives a rats ass how you get home.

"In on a jet," David use to always say... "home on a chicken bus."


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