Hercules Offshore (NASDAQ: HERO) reported Tuesday that it is currently experiencing “a well control incident” on board its jack-up drilling rig Hercules 265 in the U.S. Gulf of Mexico.
All personnel have been evacuated and efforts are ongoing to regain control of the natural gas well.
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.
According to a statement today by the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE), the rig was doing completion work on a sidetrack well to prepare it for production. The well is flowing gas and no oil is being released.
BSEE inspectors conducting an overflight reported a light sheen one-half mile by 50 feet, which is dissipating almost immediately. Pilot Bonny Schumaker took the following images today from her aircraft. The “smoke” in the photo is natural gas spewing from the well.
“Our first and foremost concern is for the safety of all personnel aboard our drilling rig and we have taken every necessary precaution to safely evacuate the rig. Furthermore, efforts are ongoing with our client, Walter Oil & Gas, to mobilize the necessary resources to regain control of the well and minimize any potential impact on the environment, ” said John T. Rynd, CEO and President of Hercules Offshore.
BSEE notes that a vessel with firefighting capabilities is expected to be on location this evening and that Walter Oil and Gas Corporation, will be conducting a site assessment prior to beginning any work on the well. All plans to stop the flow of gas and to secure the well will be reviewed and approved by BSEE.
The U.S. Coast Guard is providing safety management oversight and have deployed the following resources: the 87-foot Coast Guard Cutter Pompano, one MH-65 Dolphin helicopter from Coast Guard Air Station New Orleans and one HC-144 Ocean Sentry from Coast Guard Aviation Training Center Mobile.
“BSEE’s efforts today are focused on bringing this loss of well control event to a safe resolution,” stated Lars Herbst, BSEE Gulf of Mexico Regional Director. “Offshore oil and gas operators need to re-affirm their aggressive approach to the safety of well operations in light of this event and other recent well control events.”
Hercules 265 is a 250′ mat-supported cantilevered jackup unit.
Dr. Bonny Schumaker’s organization, On Wings Of Care is a US registered 501(c)(3) nonprofit charitable organization dedicated to the protection and preservation of wildlife, wild habitat, and natural ecosystems; to the sustainable coexistence of them with humans and domestic animals; and to the humane care of domestic animals. To make a tax-deductible contribution to support her efforts, please click HERE.
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