BSEE: Rowan EXL-3 Rig to Spud South Timbalier Relief Well This Week
The Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE), U.S. Coast Guard, and Walter Oil & Gas Corporation (Walter), through the Unified Command, continue to oversee and coordinate response efforts to secure the South Timbalier 220 natural gas Well A-3.
The BSEE said: “All available options to safely secure the natural gas well remain under consideration. Work is moving forward on all approaches. Gas detectors and high-capacity water jet fire monitors have been installed on board the Hercules 265 rig; this is for the safety of the rig and the well intervention operations which will be conducted from a near-by barge, Superior Derrick Services’ “Performance.”
Walter’s application for permit to drill a relief well was approved Saturday by BSEE. The Rowan EXL-3 jack-up rig, contracted by Walter, is on location at South Timbalier 220 and crews are preparing the rig for drilling. The crew is expected to begin drilling the relief well early Thursday. It is anticipated that it will take approximately 35 days to intercept the original well bore. Many factors can affect the expected schedule including weather and the intricate work of locating the target well bore at the end of the drilling process. A relief well is drilled to intercept the target well. Once intercepted, drilling mud followed by cement will be pumped into the well to secure it.
From visual observation, a sheen is no longer present in the area of the well. The Coast Guard continues to maintain a 500-meter safety zone around the site. Firefighting and other marine vessels remain onsite with personnel from Walter, Hercules, and other professional engineering contractors, and relevant federal agencies.
Walter experienced a loss of control of Well A-3 at approximately 8:45 a.m. July 23 on an unmanned platform at South Timbalier Block 220 while doing completion work on the sidetrack well to prepare the well for production. The operator reported the safe evacuation of 44 personnel from the Hercules 265 jack-up rig. Coast Guard confirmed that the leaking natural gas ignited at 10:45 p.m. CDT July 23. BSEE confirmed July 25 that the well flow subsided after a natural bridging process suppressed the fire.