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Neuquén Basin; 1994

Photo courtesy David Thompson; Boots and Coots, Inc.

In the distant background the drilling rig has been skidded off the well but there is still open ended drill pipe bent over the top of the Hydrill, blowing gas and on fire. Most of the big fire to the left of the crane is diverter flow to a pit, from below the BOP stack. A rather significant underground blowout is underway from gas that has broached the surface casing shoe and charged the shallow sub-surface and groundwater sands.

There were a number of these groundwater eruptions 1000 feet away from the blowout well and along a surface ridge, near an outcrop of alluvial-like gravel. These surface breaches would flow constantly but occasionally belch water high in the sky, like water fountains at a big hotel in Las Vegas.

It took over 35,000 sacks of mud and 25,000 sacks of cement to pump all this mess dead and be able to put a snubbing unit on the well. Most of that mud and cement was hand mixed, from sacks. If you can imagine what 35,000 sacks of 90 pound gel looks like, double that and you'll be close to right. This was a massive, massive undertaking in a very remote part of the world. The worldwide oil and gas industry can DO anything it has to.

These days Argentina YPF likes to call its shale gas play in the Neuquen Basin, Vaca Muerta. In 1994 YPF wanted this mess, pozo muerto.

Boots and Coots, Inc., from Houston, Texas, saw to that.


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