Bolivia, 1924


Venturi tubes, horizontal or vertical, will occasionally keep a well control hand from getting cooked....

This is an old Standard gas well blowout in the foothills of the Andes Mountains in SW Bolivia, dated 1924. It was drilled with a cable tool rig with no master valve put on the last casing string. When the well came in it might have burned the rig completely down, in any case its gone; cleared away.


Workers are hand digging around the casing, with pick axes and shovels. To avoid the fire being directly over their heads and making it too hot to dig, they have crafted a hooded, horizontal Venturi tube that is laying on the ground.

This is very cool stuff from a historical standpoint and proves that oily folks, even in 1924, were savvy to Mr. Giovanni Battista Venturi's work in 1797.


The pressure drop at the intake of a Venturi tube is enormous and I have personally seen gloves get sucked up into them, even a shovel head that got launched into the stratosphere.


I am still learning capping methodology from the early days and I don't know what's about to happen here. It was possible to get valves, bell nipples with valve assemblies, etc. over blowout flows, the trick was to KEEP them over flows once rates were restricted. Whatever you want to put on a blowout, Mother Nature wants to blow it the hell back off. Its possible the casing is going to be clamped and anchors set in cement that is poured in the deep hole around the casing; the capping assembly then anchored to casing and cement, similar to the capping of the great well in Mexico I have written about where bundles of railroad rails were used, initially, to help secure the initial capping stack. None of these capping procedures ever allowed full shut in of a well, they were used mostly to be able to install l diverter lines away from the well and get flow into earthen pits, etc., mostly to avoid fire potential and prevent waste.


One particular well I am aware of in Spindletop was capped this way and over 600,000 BO was diverted into an earthen pit. Lightening then struck the pit and all 600,000 bbls. burned up.


Venturi tubes have been used forever in well control and have allowed lots of wells to be capped without getting hair lipped or slowly steam broiled, myself included, below


And below are Larry Nixon and Ace Barnes in Burgan of Kuwait, 1991, in the process of getting a Venturi tube stabbed.

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