Environment Magazine

Hercules Jackup Rig Ablaze in Gulf of Mexico

Posted on the 24 July 2013 by Earth First! Newswire @efjournal

Hercules 265 rig fire

Hercules 265 blowout fire, Photo: U.S. Coast Guard

Photo taken from approx. 6 miles away, July 24, 2013. Photo (c) ElCapitan/gCaptain

Photo taken from approx. 6 miles away, July 24, 2013. Photo (c) ElCapitan/gCaptain

By Rob Almeida / gCaptain


A gCaptain source confirms that the well platform and the derrick on the jack-up rig have been destroyed due to the fire. The jack-up rig itself however is still standing. “The fire from the well is about as tall as the derrick would be if it were still standing,” our source noted.

In addition, a sheen on the ocean surface was reported a few miles to the north of the Hercules rig fire. It’s unclear however, whether or not the sheen and the blowout are related.

In a statement by BSEE, Walter Oil & Gas has begun preparations to drill a relief well to quell the blaze. No photos or video have yet been made public by BSEE.

Earlier today:

The Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE) has confirmed this morning that the Hercules 265 jack-up rig has caught fire following a loss of well control on board the rig yesterday.

According to a BSEE statement, the natural gas leaking from the well ignited at 10:50 p.m. CDT July 23, 2013.  No one was on board at the time of the ignition.

This likely leaves very few options now to regain control of the fire considering that the primary means of controlling the flow of the fuel source, which is the blowout preventer (BOP), has likely failed.

Unlike the 2010 Deepwater Horizon blowout, the BOP on the Hercules rig is above the water and surrounded by an uncontrolled fire.  Access to it will no doubt be impossible.

The following is video of the gas escaping from the well taken yesterday:

The operator of the field, Walter Oil and Gas can only hope that the uncontrolled flow of gas from the well causes the well to bridge off, aka collapse downhole, and seal itself off in that way, but it may take some time.

The rig is on contract with Walter Oil & Gas Corporation and operating at South Timbalier Block 220 in the U.S. Gulf of Mexico, located about 55 miles offshore Louisiana in 154 feet of water.

How a jackup rig blowout occurs

In the 2012 fire involving the jack-up rig KS Endeavor offshore Nigeria, the fire burned for about two months, and there was literally nothing left of the rig by the time the well stopped flowing.  In the meantime however, another jack-up rig was contracted to drill a well to intercept the one that was flowing in order to stem the flow of the well from its source.

This was a very expensive task for both Chevron Nigeria, and indirectly ExxonMobil, who had to disengage their rig from a current project to help quell this incident.

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