Team maintains stability of 30-well platform, contains blowouts, and safely caps wells
CHALLENGE – The main concern was to maintain the stability of the platform, which was rapidly deteriorating due to prolonged heat exposure. Fortunately, some of the wells were producing via a gas lift process and, after the initial explosion, the operation could be shut down, extinguishing the fires on these wells. Now the fires were confined to one section of the platform with wells that could not be shut in.
SOLUTION – With the protocols developed, the well control team could begin the source control operation consisting of the following steps: ensure a reliable and continuous deluge system, complete debris removal, commence jet cutting operations, and complete the well capping and kill operations. One of the primary concerns was the protection of the platform to prevent it from collapsing by containing the spread of fire to other wells.
Firefighting boats were mobilized to spray water onto the platform to reduce heat damage to the platform and neighboring wellheads. In conjunction, a water deluge system was installed on the platform to provide a continuous water curtain. Two submersible pumps provided a reliable feed to the firefighting pumps that would not be affected by adverse weather conditions.
Debris removal provided safer access routes to the wellheads. The operation involved removing damaged parts and building temporary working platforms from which to reach more inaccessible areas. Once safe access had been established to the blowout wells, three wellheads were cut using an abrasive jet cutter that allowed the plumes to be directed vertically, thus eliminating crossfire from leak points on the wellheads, and significantly reducing the risk to the platform.
While debris removal was underway, the operator’s well control team assisted Boots & Coots by pumping kill fluid into wells in the unaffected area and, in so doing, secured these wells. Several adjacent wellheads showed various degrees of damage and, as soon as access to the wellheads was gained, they were replaced, eliminating the risk of unexpected flow or the risk of the well catching fire.
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