Underground Gas Flow Forces Apache to Evacuate Gulf Rig (USA)

BSEE on Friday announced it was responding to a report from offshore oil and gas operator Apache Corporation of an underground flow of natural gas at an exploratory well being drilled in the Gulf of Mexico approximately 50 miles east of Venice, LA. There is no detection of gas at the seafloor or pollution at the location.

The rig was drilling in 218 feet water depth with a blowout preventer located on the rig. When the initial well control event occurred, Apache successfully activated the blowout preventer to prevent gas from flowing to the surface. The underground flow was detected through additional testing.

Non-essential personnel have been removed from the drilling rig. BSEE is overseeing Apache’s well control efforts. As a contingency, BSEE has directed Apache to make preparations to have an additional drilling rig onsite.

 Background

On Feb. 5, during drilling operations at Main Pass 295 in the Gulf of Mexico utilizing the Ensco 87 rig, Apache took a kick from an abnormally pressured gas zone. The well was shut in, and the blowout preventers are functioning properly. Apache is working with well control experts from Boots and Coots to kill the well. Diagnostic procedures indicated an underground migration from the bottom of the well (8,261 feet) to another sand formation at approximately 1,100 feet. At the direction of the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement, Apache is preparing to move the Rowan Cecil Provine, another drilling rig currently under contract with Apache, to the location in the event it is determined that drilling a relief well is necessary.

February 18, 2013

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