Naft Safid; 1951
It will take 15 minutes of your busy day to watch this film but it is well worth it, trust me.
This is some unusually good quality 8MM film shot in the Ahwas region of SW Persia (Iran) in 1951. This is a very big blowout. The work done on this well and shown in this film was an example of Myron Kinley at the peak of his long, illustrious career. For the record, Red Adair was with Kinley in 1951 but stayed behind in America to deal with other jobs. Kinley went on this job by himself. Imagine that today.
It took Kinley 18 hours to get to this job; from Europe to Persia, all on DC-3's. Four different legs. He had to sit on the left side of the plane so his stiff, and painful, right leg could be laid out in the aisle. He went to Iran with a hard hat, boots, and clothes in his work bag, nothing more. Everything he needed built to work this fire he built there, in Iran, on location. He took control of the job and everybody, from the top down, jumped when he said jump. Kinley answered to no one. He did not have to be politically correct, or get approval from insurance underwriters... he was not in the least bit worried about being second guessed by "experts" on LinkedIn...it was his job and his alone.
Kinley (middle), Naft Safid,1951
The blowout well is the Anglo-Iranian (British Petroleum), Naft Safid No. 20. During the filming of this well, or shortly after the blowout was capped, Iran nationalized its entire oil industry.
Initially the fire is blowing two directions, up and out. To get the well going one direction, up, Kinley spends days removing rig debris and clearing the location, the entire time building an enormous water source to fight the fire. He then knocks the wellhead and BOP assembly off the well with a large shot of glycerin and at the 8:15 mark in the film you will see the shot and 2,500 feet of 4 1/2 drill pipe get ejected from the well, hundreds of feet in the air like a big long string of spaghetti. That in itself is worth the watch. This is back in the day with Mama Earth still had some bottom hole pressure to give up.
Cement blocking below the newly installed well head before capping was very common in this era. Kinley did it as often as he could and most of the big blowouts I've studied prior to 1960 were blocked to support the weight of capping stacks and subsequent kill operations. Most of the large blowouts I've studied, and written about that occured in the Golden Lane of Mexico in the 1900's, for instance, were blocked. It's not done much anymore.
In 1956, five years after this job, Kinley found himself back in SW Iran, also by himself. Two large glycerin shots failed to put the fire out Kinley was on. He sent for Adair to come to Iran to help him and Boots Hansen, just hired by Kinley, went along. Adair "shaped" his first glycerin shot and put the fire out. Eighteen months later Kinley and Red Adair parted ways and much of it had to do with that 1956 job in Iran. They had been together for nearly 11 years and big egos were starting to enter into the relationship. I will write about that someday soon.
Enjoy the film (with narrative); it's terrific! It actually won an award at the Venice Film Festival in 1952.