Gas well blowout continues in Gulf of Mexico

Officials for Global Marine Inc., Houston, said Wednesday they have abandoned attempts to cap the blowout of the Brazos 417 #1 natural gas well in the Gulf of Mexico, about 26 miles south of Freeport, Tex., and will rely instead on a relief well that's being drilled.


Mike Sumrow
Drilling Editor
Oil & Gas Journal

HOUSTON, July 25 -- Officials for Global Marine Inc., Houston, said Wednesday they have abandoned attempts to cap the blowout of the Brazos 417 #1 natural gas well in the Gulf of Mexico, about 26 miles south of Freeport, Tex., and will rely instead on a relief well that's being drilled.

Well control specialists decided that continued attempts to control the well from the original rig that is still in place would be too risky. The derrick barge contracted to assist in capping the well was released Monday by Global Marine.

Experts are focusing well control efforts on completing the relief well, currently being drilled by Marine Drilling Cos. Inc. of Sugar Land, Tex., jack up drilling rig Marine 304. According to Global Marine, the relief well should be completed in another 10 to 14 days.

The blowout occurred about 4 a.m. July 13 aboard the Marine 4 mat-supported jack up contracted from Marine Drilling by Applied Drilling Technology Inc. (ADTI), Global Marine's turnkey drilling subsidiary (OGJ Online, July 19). ADTI was under contract to drill the well for operator, William G. Helis Co. LLC.

The cause of the blowout is still under investigation. There has been no fire, although natural gas continues to blow from the well. A firefighting tug remains at the site. Global Marine officials said continued observations from both aircraft and boat show no evidence of discoloration or sheen in the water that would indicate hydrocarbon pollution.

Ben Freeman, 61, of DeRidder, La., employed by ADTI as drilling supervisor, disappeared during the evacuation and is assumed dead. Searchers have failed to find any trace of him. Freeman was credited with heroically directing the evacuation of the other 39 workers aboard the rig at the time of the blowout.

The Marine 4 rig is still where it was drilling when the blowout occurred. There is no estimate yet as to possible damage to that rig. The Marine 4 is a mat-supported jack up built in 1975. It is capable of drilling to a depth of 25,000 ft in a maximum water depth of 250 ft.

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