Pure Oil; Eugene Island, 1953


This is a photograph of Myron M. Kinley's scared back. He received these burns in Venezuela in 1941 when the well he was working on caught fire. He attempted to run away but because of his bad right leg he tripped and fell. Had a Halliburton hand not driven his truck between Kinley and the fire, Myron might have burned up. As it was he spent six months in a hospital recovering. The burns were extensive including down his butt and upper legs. Mac Kinley was a tough son of a bitch and that is all that needs to be said about that.


This photo was taken in 1953 on a gas well blowout for Pure Oil Company about fifteen miles south of Morgan City in the Eugene Island area. It

occurred on a wooden production platform in about 40 feet of water on January 23, 1953. Again we find that although Red Adair was Kinley's right hand man in 1953, business was booming and Adair was off doing other things. Kinley took with him a fella named Mansell Rake to help on this job.

One of five production wells on the platform let go and caught another well next to it in another slot on fire the next day.


The film, below, of the job is fantastic. Four minutes is all it takes to watch it.


I can't tell you why this all occurred, from what field or reservoirs; we can only piece together the facts from observation of the film, below. There is no audio with the film and not a lot of information available. The initial explosion and subsequent fire burned the wooden platform into nothing and left the tree on the primary blowout well all cock walleyed and blowing at right angles to each other. The adjoining well caught fire above the tubing hanger. It appears the two wells were tied together via a common production line. The platform was large and contained both production processing and storage, as well as living quarters.


On this job Kinley has loaded a dozer and athey wagon hook on a barge and uses a crane to move the hook around to pull away shit piled up around the tree. It was not possible to use explosives to blow the damaged tree(s) off because of nearby wells so, believe it or not, Kinley hired the US Army from Fort Polk to come out and shoot 75MM artillery rounds at it, similar to what he did in Romania in 1931. I get that information from three separate newspaper articles on the incident. It worked, actually, and blew all the production wings off the tree(s) and got the fire going straight up. Water at high rates knocked the fires out on both wells.


Please click on the image, above, to see the film.



The film focuses on capping the secondary well at the tubing head. The primary blowout well, the one that caused this entire mess, is in the background still blowing. Nothing's easy about this kind of shit, trust me. What you want to put oneth a blowing well always wants to come back offeth. Mother Nature can be a bitch when She wants.


With a new valve assembly on the secondary well they were able to tie into it and pump it dead. Halliburton pump truck operators make a cursory showing in the film, complete with hand signals and monitoring volumes pumped out of mixing tubs. The film ends without showing how they capped the primary well but it looks to be simple matter of a flange to flange connection at the tubing head also. Kinley got it, rest assured.


Remember Myron was a sort of heavy set fella with a bad limp. He often wore a red hard hat and when it was below 80 degrees the little flapper cap that covered his ears under that. It was almost a trademark. He was always barking orders and pointing at shit for people to do.


Kinley worked on a well one time that was hurling rocks and broken shale in the air and falling back down on top of him. Big stuff that hurt like hell. He screwed his tin hard hat on top of a football helmet, complete with a nose guard, and wore shoulder pads over his work shirt. No photos of this, sadly, but I have heard the football helmet is still around somewhere. I'd trade three oil wells for that football helmet with the hard hat on it. It needs to go in a museum.