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Loffland Rig 32

This is Loffland Rig 32 in Oklahoma in the early 1970's, built for the US Atomic Energy Commission.

She had a 3,000-hp drawworks, two 1,650-hp mud pumps, and a crown block rated at 950 tons. Her hook load capacity was rated for 750 tons. In other words, she was hell for stout. Ruffnecks being ruffnecks would say this is a big 'ol gal with wide hips. She had to have big hips for the depths she was designed for.

After Rig 32 finished for the government she spudded the Lone Star Producing Company 1-27 well in Washita County in Western Oklahoma, near Elk City, in the Andadarko Basin, in the fall of 1972. It took her 18 months and five strings of casing to reach TD at 31,441 feet in 1974. It was the first well from hell. It was aptly named "Big Bertha."

At TD the recorded BHP was 25,000 PSI. Lone Star's target had no hydrocarbons, only molten sulfur, whose gas almost killed everybody several times. With the well kicking, constantly, at TD they pumped bromide laced mud weighing 20 pound per gallon; that mud and molten sulfur solidified and stuck the entire bottom hole assembly tighter than Dick's hatband. The drill pipe twisted off. Common sense prevailed about trying to side track around that shit, so they buried the BHA and 10,000 feet of 5 1/2 inch drill pipe in cement, set more cement plugs and eventually perforated the well in the Granite Wash from 11,000 feet down to 13,200 feet.

It produced commerical quanitites of natural gas and some NGL's for the next 20 years and was finally plugged in 1997. The well never paid back total D&C costs, but got close.

Big Bertha was a reminder to frail human beings thinking they could push the envelope... its often not a good idea to mess with Mother Nature.


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