Why Oil Rig Blowout Accidents Happen.
Blowouts happen when a pressurized underground zone is encountered while drilling, and the weight of the drilling mud is insufficient to hold back the pressure. Natural gas and fluid then travels from the highly pressurized zone to an under-pressured zone, whether it is the surface or a less pressurized zone above it that has already been drilled through. In the case of a "kick", the BOP can be shut in and a blowout situation prevented. If the pressure is extreme, or the crew is caught off guard when drilling under-balanced, a kick can result in a blowout.
The threat of oilfield blowouts and wild well fires is very real. Mud engineers have to constantly monitor their mud weight to be ready for pressurized zones. The man on the mud pits must monitor mud weight coming out and going in, and the trip tank needs to be watched for gain. If the level in the trip tank, where displaced fluid goes when drill pipe is put into the hole, is greater than the displacement of the drill pipe, the well may be about to take a kick.
Drillers must keep the hole full when removing pipe from the well, since the weight of the whole fluid column, or hydrostatic pressure, helps hold back gas from pressurized zones entering the well bore. A good mudlogger can help prevent a blowout by interpreting indications of higher pore pressure, such as heaving shale and increases in connection gas, drilling breaks and other clues.
Oil rig blowout in Algeria. The drilling rig has been burned to the ground.
Oil rig blowout in Turkmenistan, No fire thank goodness. Above Right, Piper Alpha oil rig fire in the North Sea.
One of the deadliest oilfield blowouts in history occurred on the Piper Alpha in the North Sea, which was operated by Occidental Petroleum. One hundred and sixty men perished as a result of the explosions and fire on board the Piper Alpha, including two operators of a Fast Rescue Craft. Sixty two men survived, mostly by jumping into the sea from the high decks of the platform.
Oil rig blowout in Canada.
Inland barge oil rig blowout.
Canadian oil rig blowout.
Snubber rig blowout and fire. (Snubber rigs or snubbing units are used to re - drill or work over oil or gas wells under pressure). Nabors Oil Drilling Rig on fire.
Brooks Alberta oil rig blowout, truck rig. Temsah offshore oil rig blowout, Egypt.
Celtic drilling rig blowout. 1992 Inland waters oil rig blowout, U.S.
East Texas drilling rig blowout. Offshore drilling rig blowout.
Below, Offshore rig blowout. An oilfield blowout can cause a semi-submersible oil rig or drilling ship to sink since the gas bubbles cause the rig to loose buoyancy.
Oil rig blowout and fire. TRG Rig 131 A tragic situation but a great photo of a drilling rig crashing and burning after an oilfield blowout in Oklahoma. Photographer C. Keevert.
Below, An Interesting Transformation After an Offshore Rig Blowout.
Below is a photo of the Ocean Odyssey blowout in the U.K, in 1988. A blowout of an offshore rig is even more dangerous than a drilling rig on land. The only escape besides the lifeboat is often a freezing sea, as was the case in the Piper Alpha accident where so many lives were lost. Below, the oil rig Ocean Odyssey was towed in after the fire, and refurbished into a satellite launching station. The first photo is of the oil rig fire, the second is of an offshore satellite launch from an oil rig reborn as a spaceport.