JULY 29, 2013 — The Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE), U.S. Coast Guard, and Walter Oil & Gas Corporation (Walter), through the Unified Command, continue to oversee and coordinate response efforts to secure the South Timbalier 220 natural gas Well A-3.
USCG photograph shows some of damage sustained by Hercules 265 jack-up
Walter experienced a loss of control of Well A-3 at approximately 8:45 a.m. July 23 on an unmanned platform at South Timbalier Block 220 while doing completion work on the sidetrack well to prepare the well for production (see earlier story). The operator reported the safe evacuation of 44 personnel from the Hercules 265 jack-up rig. Coast Guard confirmed that the leaking natural gas ignited at 10:45 p.m. CDT July 23. BSEE confirmed July 25 that the well flow subsided after a natural bridging process suppressed the fire.
BSEE says all available options for a safe resolution to the incident continue to be under consideration. After completion of a site assessment, personnel are on board the Hercules 265 jack-up rig and in the process of installing gas detectors and high-capacity water jet fire monitors for contingency purposes.
The Superior Derrick Services’ barge, Performance, arrived on location Saturday and was setting anchors yesterday. The barge will be used by response teams to assist with well intervention activities.
BSEE has now approved Walter’s permit application to drill a relief well. The Rowan EXL-3 jack-up rig, contracted by Walter, is on location at South Timbalier 220 and crews are preparing the rig for drilling. A relief well is drilled to intercept the target well. Once intercepted, drilling mud followed by cement will be pumped into the well to secure it.
A slight sheen continues to be detected on the water’s surface according to visual observations. The sheen is dissipating quickly. The Coast Guard continues to maintain a 500-meter safety zone around the site. Firefighting and other marine vessels remain onsite with personnel from Walter, Hercules, and other professional engineering contractors, and relevant federal agencies.
BSEE’s investigation into the cause of the loss of well control continues in coordination with the Coast Guard.