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Oil Rig Photos

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Gulf of Mexico 1979/81
Oil Rig Photos
No: 2555   Contributor: Phil Hunt   Year: 1979   Country: Mexico
Gulf of Mexico 1979/81

This is one of two pictures taken by me not long after the drilling rig suffered a blowout at Ixtok 10. The famous Red Adare tended and a relief well was drilled to shut it down. It blew again and continued to do so for approx 9 months. See picture #2556.
Picture added on 16 December 2011 at 22:33
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From Wikipedia - Mexico's government-owned oil company Pemex (PetrĂ³leos Mexicanos) was drilling a 3 km (1.9 mi) deep oil well when the drilling rig Sedco 135F lost drilling mud circulation.

At the time of the accident Sedco 135F was drilling at a depth of about 3,600 metres (11,800 ft) below the seafloor. The day before Ixtoc suffered the blowout and resulting fire that caused her to sink, the drill bit hit a region of soft strata. Subsequently, the circulation of drilling mud was lost resulting in a loss of hydrostatic pressure. Rather than returning to the surface, the drilling mud was escaping into fractures that had formed in the rock at the bottom of the hole. Pemex officials decided to remove the bit, run the drill pipe back into the hole and pump materials down this open-ended drill pipe in an effort to seal off the fractures that were causing the loss of circulation.

During the removal of the pipe on Sedco 135F, the drilling mud suddenly began to flow up towards the surface; by removing the drill-string the well was swabbed leading to a kick. Normally, this flow can be stopped by activating shear rams contained in the blowout preventer (BOP). These rams are designed to sever and seal off the well on the ocean floor; however in this case the drill collars had been brought in line with the BOP and the BOP rams were not able to sever the thick steel walls of the drill collars leading to a catastrophic blowout.

The drilling mud was followed by a large quantity of oil and gas at an increasing flow rate. The oil and gas fumes exploded on contact with the operating pump motors, starting a fire which led to the collapse of the Sedco 135F drilling tower. The collapse caused damage to underlying well structures. The damage to the well structures led to the release of significant quantities of oil into the Gulf.

In the next nine months, experts and divers including Red Adair were brought in to contain and cap the oil well. An average of approximately 10,000 to 30,000 barrels (2,000 to 5,000 m3) per day were discharged into the Gulf until it was finally capped on 23 March 1980, nearly 10 months later. In similarity to the Deepwater Horizon oil spill 31 years later, the list of methods attempted to remediate the leak included lowering a cap over the well, plugging the leak with mud and "junk", use of huge quantities of dispersants, and spending months attempting to drill relief wells.

Added by Editor on 16 December 2011.
I've just been given a tankard which belonged to my father. It says his name, Sedco, 1969 - 1975 135-F New Zealand North Sea. I googled and this came up, I assume unrelated as this is Mexico and he's says New Zealand.

Added by Tara Bennett on 17 April 2017.
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