Relief well planned to stop natural gas leak, rig fire in gulf

This story was updated on July 25.

Sand and sediment blocked the flow of natural gas from a well in the Gulf of Mexico that has been leaking since July 23, federal regulators said on July 25. A fire burning on a jack up rig since late July 23 was reduced to a small flame as of early July 25.

The US Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement said the well had bridged.

Responders, meanwhile, are reviewing plans to drill a relief well. The troubled well, operated by Houston-based Walter Oil & Gas Corp., was drilled in 154 ft of water about 55 miles off Louisiana.

Earlier today, BSEE said a fire-fighting vessel was spraying a water curtain to provide heat protection for the rig until the well could be brought under control, while US Coast Guard cutters enforced a safety zone around the scene and assessed rig conditions.

Drilling contractor Hercules Offshore said the extent of damage to the jack up currently is undetermined.

BSEE engineers planned to review a permit application from Walter Oil & Gas to drill a relief well. BSEE must approve details on the proposed well, its casing, and cementing programs before drilling begins.

Officials were setting up a Command Center to monitor efforts to secure the gas well following a well-control incident on an unmanned platform on South Timbalier Block 220.

The incident happened July 23, resulting in a subsequent fire on the rig hours later. The Hercules 265 jack up was completing on a sidetrack well to prepare Well A-3 for production when a gas leak prompted the evacuation of 44 workers from the jack up (OGJ Online, July 24, 2013).

An investigation into cause of the loss of well control is under way. Observers aboard multiple flights surveying the scene report a very light sheen that dissipates quickly.

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