Case Study: In 1924, Myron Kinley Kick-Starts the Well Control Industry with a Bang

Most well control methods and technologies used today trace their roots back to one man: Myron Kinley

Challenges – In the early days of the oil field, blowouts were common, but there were no well control companies around to handle them. Thousands of lives were lost as oil companies struggled to handle dangerous blowouts without the benefits of modern-day well control practices. Then Myron Kinley arrived on the scene and saved the day. Kinley, who is considered to be the father of the modern well control industry, developed sorely needed well control methods and technologies that saved countless lives.

Overview – Born in California in 1898, Kinley grew up around the oil field. His father, Karl T. Kinley, was a torpedo shooter. Torpedo shooters dropped explosive nitroglycerin canisters, called torpedoes, down the well to fracture the rock and induce flow. In 1913, Kinley’s father was sent to Bakersfield, California, to blow a valve off a well that was blowing out. It was common practice in those days to blow valves off of oil wells so the blowout and fire would erupt straight up. With the well blowing straight up, the job of putting out the fire with dirt and water was made easier.

The resultant explosion blew the valve off the blowout well, but also unexpectedly put out the fire. The explosion had used up all the nearby oxygen and snuffed out the fire, which reignited a few minutes later. No one thought much of the fire going out except for 14-year-old Kinley, who had accompanied his father that day to the well.

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