hercules 265 rig

Image: BSEE

Hercules 265

Image: BSEE

Image: BSEE

Image: BSEE

Update 5 (29 July 2013)
On 27 July, BSEE approved a permit application by Walter Oil and Gas to drill the relief well which will permanently kill the well that blew out last week, destroying a fixed gas platform and seriously damaging the Hercules 265 drilling rig. Rowan Drilling’s EXL-3 jack-up rig has been contracted by Walter and is on location at South Timbalier 220. Crews are preparing the rig to drill the relief well which will intercept the blown-out well and secure it with cement and heavy mud.

Update 4 (1032 EST 25 July 2013)

The Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE) is currently returning from their tour of the incident scene and our source indicates that the fire from the well is out and a clean-up plan is in progress.  This would indicate that the well has caved in and sealed itself downhole, effectively removing the fuel source from the blaze.

We have reached out to BSEE and Walter Oil and Gas, but are still waiting for official comments.

Update 3 (0800 EST 25 July 2013):

We just got word from our source that the well bridged over last night.  BSEE is currently on their way to the scene to confirm.

Update 2 (2200 EST 24 July 2013):

A Seacor-owned OSV is currently attempting to cool the rig, however it’s only able to come to about 100 yards of the rig. According to a gCaptain source it is doing little more than misting the charred jack-up rig.  Well intervention experts are unlikely to have much success in killing this well, considering the incredible heat from the blaze.

Images via Anonymous gCaptain contributor:

hercules 265 rig fire

hercules 265 rig fire

Our source did note that the hydrocarbons appeared to have a bit more water and steam mixed into the plume of fire this afternoon, which could indicate that the well may be in the process of bridging off, or killing itself on its own.

Hercules 265 rig fire

Hercules 265 blowout fire, Photo: U.S. Coast Guard

Photo taken from approx. 6 miles away, July 24, 2013. Photo (c) ElCapitan/gCaptain

Photo taken from approx. 6 miles away, July 24, 2013. Photo (c) ElCapitan/gCaptain

As the above image shows, the derrick on board the jack-up and the well platform have largely disintegrated, but the rig itself still appears somewhat structurally sound.

As of this afternoon, our source notes that the wellhead is starting to burn lower than it was burning earlier today, which would indicate significant deterioration or disintegration of the top of the wellhead.
Minimal sheen is currently visible in the immediate vicinity.

In a statement earlier today by the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE), Walter Oil & Gas has begun preparations to drill a relief well to quell the blaze.  Hercules notes that should a relief well be necessary, they are prepared to “promptly mobilize the Hercules 200, a 200′ mat-supported cantilevered unit to execute drilling of the relief well.”

Earlier update:

BSEE has confirmed this morning that the Hercules 265 jack-up rig has caught fire following a loss of well control on board the rig yesterday.

According to a BSEE statement, the natural gas leaking from the well ignited at 10:50 p.m. CDT July 23, 2013.  No one was on board at the time of the ignition.

hercules 265 crew rescued

The Max Cheramie offshore supply vessel picked up the personnel from the Hercules 265’s lifeboats. These lifeboats were then tied together and the Callie jean towed them into the dock, the K-Line Danos and John G McCall were also on scene. Image via anonymous gCaptain contributor

This likely leaves very few options now to regain control of the fire considering that the primary means of controlling the flow of the fuel source, which is the blowout preventer (BOP), has likely failed.

Unlike the 2010 Deepwater Horizon blowout, the BOP on the Hercules rig is above the water and surrounded by an uncontrolled fire.  Access to it will no doubt be impossible.

The following is video of the gas escaping from the well taken yesterday:

The operator of the field, Walter Oil and Gas can only hope that the uncontrolled flow of gas from the well causes the well to bridge off, aka collapse downhole, and seal itself off in that way, but it may take some time.

The rig is on contract with Walter Oil & Gas Corporation and operating at South Timbalier Block 220 in the U.S. Gulf of Mexico, located about 55 miles offshore Louisiana in 154 feet of water.

How a jackup rig blowout occurs

In the 2012 fire involving the jack-up rig KS Endeavor offshore Nigeria, the fire burned for about two months, and there was literally nothing left of the rig by the time the well stopped flowing.  In the meantime however, another jack-up rig was contracted to drill a well to intercept the one that was flowing in order to stem the flow of the well from its source.

This was a very expensive task for both Chevron Nigeria, and indirectly ExxonMobil, who had to disengage their rig from a current project to help quell this incident.

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  • Mark

    In my high school journalism class they taught us the 4 Ws and and an H.

    WHERE did this happen?

    • frank black

      “The rig is on contract with Walter Oil & Gas Corporation and operating at South Timbalier Block 220 in the U.S. Gulf of Mexico, located about 55 miles offshore Louisiana in 154 feet of water.”

    • Santiago

      Go back to your high school journalism classes and tell them that need to teach reading lessons

      • Penguins Fucking Rule

        5 W’s. Who, What, Where, When, Who – How.

        • Penguins Fucking Rule

          OOps, and WHY!!! :_)

          Now, Let’s Go Pens

          • Earl Duke

            “F” YOU…PENGUIN….YOU SUCK

  • Santiago

    Somebody needs a lot of “reading” lessons

  • Gigi

    It says where at the end. granted, it should have been established closer to the beginning of the article….

    • Earl Duke


    • Rob Johnson

      a very bold statement, mr. anonymous. thanks for sharing your expertise.

  • Aaron Jacques (oilfield worker)

    Society is mighty quick to condemn and criticize an industry that the absolutely cannot live without.
    Unless you use a bicycle (without tires) to get everywhere, or don’t use plastic AT ALL…you need to keep quiet.
    Machines and equipment used in the field are designed and installed by people. People are not perfect and sometimes shit just happens.
    So anyone out there…who thinks they are perfect and who doesn’t use any products that have some kind of hydrocarbon based component in them…feel free to come on out to the fields and show us all how to do things better.
    Otherwise…why don’t you THANK an oilfield worker for providing you with the things you need and maybe offer a prayer for those affected by this unfortunate incident.


  • Josh Woods

    I worked on this rig for 10 years
    I can tell u now that OIM driller and hands are the best the oil patch has to offer. The reason everyone made it off safe is because that crew practices fire & and evacuation drills twice a week.I know the details of why and what happened but there is no sense and trying to explain to anyone that dosnt understand a well or equipment that is used. Dont worrie about the environment it will be fine this was not an oil well….. Just say a prayer for everyone that was on this rig that they can continue doing what they love after a life changing event such as this…………

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