Well Blow Out!

David (Buck) Millsap, salesman and drilling motor consulatant at Adtech Drilling Motors, was actually working as a roughneck in the oilfield when a well blew out on January 15th, 1980. Buck was 18 years old working with the drilling contractor, Jernigan Drilling Company for American Questar Oil. Buck was hired out by his uncle, who was the driller on this particular well, and Buck was fresh out of high school. This was Buck’s first “real” job and he classifies himself as a genuine “Worm” at that time. He had been on the job for less than seven months, and the drilling crew (daylights) was fixing to trip out of the hole. They had set the Kelly back when they noticed the drill mud starting to bubble out of the top of the drill pipe. A little concern was when it was bubbling out at 6 inches above the pipe. At two feet above the pipe, the crew grabbed the TIW valve to screw into the drill pipe, but the pressure was too high and they could not shove it down. When the drilling mud shot up to the derrick, Buck and the crew abandoned ship and ran the the edge of the drilling location.

 By this time the mud was shooting 12 to 15 feet above the derrick and was now drilling mud and gas. Buck estimates the sub structure at 30 ft, rig floor to board at 100 feet and the 25 ft above the derrick board to the crown for a total of 150 to 155 feet of mud and gas mixture. Buck said when the mud got to the top of the derrick, it sounded like a tornado or a big freight train headed their way. The company man also ran with them and then sent the poor driller back to the rig to close off the “blind ram” on the blow out preventor. This slices off the pipe going through the blow out preventor and blank it off. Thereby shutting in the well and stopping the mud flow. The now famous Red Adiar Company was called to take care of the blowout.

 They started bleeding the gas through the manifold to a bowie line where it was flared off of the well. Once that part was under control, the Otis Company was brought in with a snubbing unit and the pipe was removed one piece at a time. At one point, the drill pipe became plugged with LMS material. Otis brought in a smaller snubbing line that went up into the derrick and was lowered into the drill pipe to remove the debri. When the well was under control, the oil company removed the blow out preventor, ran a Christmas Tree to check if they wanted to produce the well at this point. But as Buck remembers, they decided to continue drilling and TD the well at 22,500 feet. Buck claims that after the blow out and until they got back to drilling, he was paid to show up, furnished a nice set of overalls, and to not go near the rig floor. Quite an experience for an 18 year old greenhorn!

Question: Did Red Adair actually show up to the well site?

 Buck does not remember as he did not know much about Red Adair at that time.

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