I wrote this post in 2021, what seems long ago to me now, and had essentially forgotten about it until I received an email a few days ago from a commenter named 'edmeaux,' whose actual name is Edmund Ring.
Once again, I feel deeply honored that this person would take a moment from his life to tell me his grandfather's story about this disaster in Louisiana and to actually send me a few photographs that I am quite sure nobody has ever seen before.
From my post in 2021 here is an excerpt of the narrative and one of numerous photographs of the fires on this Shell platform. You may click on the image below to read the article.
April, 1971. Platform B is essentially gone. Above the water line are assorted well heads intact or burned into nothing but not blowing because of relief well intersections.
The B-9 well was intersected with a relief well in mid February, it took 13 days and 236,000 BW to kill it. By late April 1971, all but two of the nine wells on fire at Platform B had bridged or were pumped dead at relief well intersections. Well B-18 was one of the only wells on the platform that had rate-actuated storm choke valve in it. Its tree had been badly damaged by fire and was leaking at what was believed to be the tubing hanger. From a nearby barge, Shell personal fired nine, 30-6 rounds from a rifle into a wing valve on the production tubing which caused the valve to rupture and engage the down hole safety valve. Within a few hours that well was dead.
The email I received...
"The gentleman mentioned in the article that shot the valve & tubing with a 30-06 and armor piercing rounds was my grandfather. His name was Kenneth Ring. He was a petroleum engineer (he specialized in production) with Shell. He was also a decorated WW2 veteran, officer in the 42nd div. infantry. Qualified expert in every weapon from 30 cal to 155mm howitzer. Unfortunately I never knew him because he passed from a brain tumor when I was 2 years old.
But my dad has told us the story of his part in that fire many times...
The way I’ve heard it, the production engineers and fire engineers were all scratching their heads trying to make sense of what lines and valves in the twisted wreckage contained what flow. My grandfather half jokingly said “I’ll shoot some damned holes in them and whatever they spew we’ll find out fast.“ Someone asked “can you do that?” And he replied, “well, I don’t see why not, I’ve got a competition 30-06 with a 30x scope at home. Get me some armor piercing rounds and have Coast Guard clear me a fairway…”
They set up a barge with a box for him to sit on and a crate with some life jackets as a rest and he did the job.
Really amazing stuff in my opinion."
I could never write enough words to describe the image above. Once one of Mr. Ring's rounds hit the production valve, pressure released and the down hole safety valve closed. The B-18 well ceased blowing almost immediately. One other well on the platform still blowing could then be reached by Red and Boots and was capped from the surface.
The event in Bay Marchand in 1970-1971 was horrible. Nine wells burned for 139 days. Coots personally told me about he and Boots being the first ones on that platform after surface control was initially lost and about finding the bodies of dead men on the rig floor. It was one of the few stories I heard from him tell over the years that was solemn and clearly painful.
When I was six or seven years old my father came home from work on day, early, to get his 30-06 and told me to go get in the truck. When I was a kid he was always telling me to go get in the damn truck. I thought we were going to deer hunting and was excited. The derrick on one of his rigs had collapsed and twisted into itself, the only thing holding it up was the 1 1/8th inch drill line. It was very cold that day and he laid heavy coats over the hood of our '54 Chevy and I put my little fingers in my ears and watched him shoot. He hit that cable twice before it parted and the derrick came down in a terrible crash. My father was a B-24 pilot/bombardier in the European theatre in 1944-1946. He carried shrapnel in his rib cage the rest of his life. Nothing he did that day was like what your grandfather did in Louisiana, but your story rings close to me.
We all knew men like your grandfather, Mr. Ring; they were tough and carried the wounds of a terrible war and the burdens of an entire nation with them until they died, one and all. When they came home from Europe and the Pacific the oil and natural gas they helped find, produce and refine made America a country to be respected, and reconciled with throughout the entire world.
I cannot tell you how proud I am of your grandfather, sir, and how very much I appreciate you emailing me.