Mexican Hat; 1927
This is the Hansen (Noble) No. 1 well drilling along the San Juan River, in the Four Corners area of S.E. Utah, in 1927, and shit has done hit the fan. The rod looking thing at the top of the photo is a 4 inch bailer being ejected from the well. This is not a good place to have a blowout.
Drilling wells with cable tools was a precarious endeavor in wildcat areas. A driller could tell what sort of rock he was banging away on, and whether it was dense, hard, brittle, vugular, shaley, sandy...imagine how exciting it might have been to have your entire bottom hole assembly and bit drop off into a cavern of nothing for 30-40 feet.
But under normal pressure environments you never knew, really, what you were drilling until you bailed the cuttings out of the well. It might have smelled oily, or gassy, but the bailer told the tale. So when bailing away all of a sudden the well started belching muddy water out of the casing, and 1 1/4 inch hemp rope started coming out of the well and draping over the walking beam, generally speaking... it was time to haul ass.
The two gentlemen on the right, in the photo, have done just that. They're watching all the bull wheel rope come out like a big long string of pasta, followed by the bailer itself, hundreds of feet in the air. When the great Potrero de Llano No 4 came in down in Mexico in 1914 they found the bailer four days later, hanging in a banana tree...almost a mile away from the well.
At some point these boys are going to have to nut up and go in and shut the master valve on the casing, if there is one, or they're going to mess up the trout fishing for awhile.
The Mexican Hat play, near Mexican Hat, Utah, got lots of wells drilled in it, many of which had tremendous oil and gas shows, and blowouts, or gushers, that quickly then pooped out. There is no significant oil production in the area.
The 4 corners region of New Mexico, Colorado, Utah and Arizona in the San Juan Basin is, of course, famous for its coal bed gas production from the Fruitland and Kirtland formations There are literally thousands of low pressure, low volume gas wells in a vast area around Farmington, New Mexico set to produce between 25-35 TCF of gas.
There are so many gas wells in this region, and so much natural seepage of coal bed methane, this area is often called America's Methane "Super Hot Spot" by the EPA and Sierra Club.
This dubious distinction seems to piss the Permian shale oil industry off so they are flaring as much associated gas as possible in hopes of being named the Super-Duper Methane Hot Spot of North America and you can see on the map, right, that Texas is on Her way to stardom. In the Lone Star State we believe if you wanna be a bear, be a Grizzly.
New Zealand is a methane "super hot spot" too, but that's from gassy sheep, not coal bed methane or gassy horizontal Wolfcamp wells.
That yellow spot in California by the way, is Kern County where there are as many oil wells as there are sheep in New Zealand and apparently they are all leaking as well.