Oil Spill Responders on Alert as Gulf of Mexico Platform Suffers Loss of Well Control [UPDATE]

Rob Almeida
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July 9, 2013

talos energy

Update: A statement from Talos Energy late Tuesday said that during operations yesterday to permanently plug and abandon their non-producing Ship Shoal 225 B-2 well, salt water containing a small amount of gas and light condensate began to flow to the surface and around the wellhead. All five personnel on the platform were evacuated safely as a precaution, the statement said.

Talos expects that the well will be shut in within the next 24 hours.

“We are currently taking all available action to shut the well in as soon as possible, including engaging Wild Well Control who has returned to the platform to commence well control operations,” the statement said.

Ship Shoal 225 B-2

Ship Shoal 225 B-2 well is an older gas condensate well in a field developed in the 1970’s that last produced mostly water in 1998 at a rate of 65 thousand cubic feet of gas per day, 9 barrels of condensate per day and 1,150 barrels of water per day at a low flowing pressure of 175 psi, and the well was unable to produce without artificial lift, Talos Energy said.

“We were plugging and abandoning the well as part of our active idle iron removal program in coordination with the BSEE, and we believe that the age of the tubing may have contributed to the incident,” the statement said.

Earlier: In an emailed statement this afternoon, the US Coast Guard confirms a natural gas and crude oil platform owned by Energy Resources Technology Gulf of Mexico, LLC (ERT), a subsidiary of Talos Energy, has lost well containment and is currently releasing natural gas and possibly crude oil into the Gulf of Mexico.

The platform is Ship Shoal Block 225 Platform B, located approximately 74 miles southwest of Port Fourchon and Coast Guard and Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE) are responding.

ERT notified USCG and BSEE officials on Tuesday that their platform had “lost well control” and that work to temporarily plug Well #B2 “was ongoing when workers became aware of the well control event.”

In a phone call with the US Coast Guard this afternoon, they confirm the platform is still releasing hydrocarbons.

The two other production wells on Platform B have been successfully shut in and all platform personnel are safely evacuated.

According to ERT’s site assessment, “natural gas is flowing from the well and there is a rainbow sheen visible on the surface estimated to be more than four miles wide by three quarters of a mile long.”

The US Coast Guard reports BSEE Houma District staff and Coast Guard Marine Safety Unit Morgan City personnel are monitoring well control and pollution response efforts in ERT’s Command Center in Houston.

This incident is markedly different from the 2010 Macondo Disaster due to the fact the platform is not in deep water, the hydrocarbon release appears to be mostly natural gas, and this well likely has nowhere near the flow rate as the Macondo Well.

Losing Well Control

Complete loss of well control occurs when all of the safety barriers, for one reason or another, have failed to hold back the pressurized flow of hydrocarbons from an underground formation.  Safety barriers include sufficiently weighted mud, a blowout preventer, a downhole cement plug, or a production tree.

Industry Response

Since the Deepwater Horizon disaster, a number of firms such as Helix Energy Solutions Group and the Marine Well Containment Company, have come up their own solutions to how to mitigate the loss of well control in a subsea environment.  The success of the response over the next 24 hours will likely be an interesting test to see how much has been learned over the past few years in offshore well control response technology.

ERT was acquired by Talos Energy, LLC in February 2013 from Helix Energy Solutions Group.

Are you on-scene? Feel free to email us at [email protected] with any updates or photos

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