N. Padre Island; 2020


This is a production platform 3 miles off the beach at the imaginary N. Padre to S. Mustang Island, Packery Channel confluence; the city of Corpus Christi is inland from this point about 11 miles. This well started blowing dry gas from of a cut-out valve in the casing B-section on September 1, 2020. It upset a lot of people that said it was very loud, even from the Bob Hall Pier, and that the gas stunk, which I doubt, knowing where this producing interval is in this field and the age of reservoir. Typically if you are within 200 yards of that pier about all you can "smell' is seagull and Pelican shit.


Megellan E&P was the operator. In the top photo access looks pretty simple and given the nature of the deck it looks possible to fix it by replacing the valve. The helideck is directly above the well head and was not safe to access via helicopter.


It took two days to be able to get a workboat to the well because of rough seas and over that 2 day period the well started blowing harder and from two places, not one. Compare the top and bottom photos and you'll see in the video screen print, below, the well is now blowing above the platform floor, instead of just out, under the floor.

Not a video, sorry

Above, a different look at the well blowing from two places in a Coast Guard fly by. Again, below, a closer look. The actual well tree is red ...


I think this was a Boots and Coots call; my apologies to my colleagues in other companies if I am wrong.


Upon boarding the platform a cut out valve was indeed found and a ring gasket failure on a flange to flange connection between the final casing to production tubing head. This was not a simple fix. Plan B was some kind of top kill, then snubbing the well under pressure to set temporary plugs so the entire well head section could be replaced.


Erin Brockovich back in California got on Corpus Christi news programs trying to drum up business on the basis of "deadly gas" containing mercury and other bad stuff...spewing into the atmosphere. Texans are sort of use to these kinds of things so it didn't work.

Over the ensuing weeks a jack up tender was rigged up over the well to support snubbing operations. On the left we can see the snubbing basket higher than the leg on the tender. The original well head is below the tender deck, about where the pump boat is spraying water to reduce ignition chances. There appears to be gas on the tender deck; I suspect they are just bleeding off between rams as they jack their work string into the live well to try and kill it.


Its hard to sort these kinds of things out; operators are tight lipped about stuff and well control companies hardly ever discuss their clients problems. Once the flange to flange connection failed this well was blowing pretty hard. It helps to have been, there done that, when looking at photos and being able to tell what exactly happened. Still, its mostly a guess. This was essentially dry gas and no environmental harm occurred. If this blowing well is loud 3 miles away, on the beach, imagine what it was like to board the platform.


That's an an awesome winter wave breaking on the 3rd sand bar just north of the pier, by the way; complete with nice offshore winds.


October 2021, Megellan is back on line, wishing they could turn that gas into LNG for $50 per MMBTU, pelicans are back to shitting all over the pier and Erin is still looking for benzene wherever she can find it back in California.





A final note on Brown Pelican excrement, if I may:


Pigs and chickens have nothing on pelicans with regard to smelly deposits. Pelicans love to sit on single well platforms in shallow-water bays and marshes in Louisiana and Texas and take long, nasty dumps on well heads. If you've ever heard the expression, "it'll pass like green grass thru a goose"... try small bait fish fish thru a pelican.


That pelican poop then glazes over in the hot sun and turns white, layer after layer, like deposition of sediments over geological time. It is the foulest stuff you can imagine and when you have to work around these little platforms you have to stuff ear plugs in your ears, because they're loud, of course, ...then ear plugs in your nostrils.

Photo, David Thompson, Barataria Bay, Louisiana, 1989; basically the same cut out valve situation that occurred on the Magellan incident in 2020; this on a much smaller scale. That is NOT white paint all over the tree, I assure you.