Questions and Answers
Specializing in High Pressure Cleaning
of all types of surfaces / Contcrete , Wood , Grout , Tile , Stone , Exc………Under Pressure
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As the well is drilled deeper and deeper, the chances of hitting a high-pressure oil or gas formation increases. The blowout preventer stack is a redundant series of “valves” that prevent that high pressure “kick” from causing an out-of-control release of that high-pressure oil or gas.
When a kick first occurs, an “annular” preventer is activated to react the pressure from the kick. The annular preventer is like a balloon inflated around a pipe. It’s a quick, low-pressure solution for the kick. Also, high density “mud” is pumped down the casing to overcome the pressure of the kick and stablize the event.
If the high-pressure kick overwhelms the annular preventer and the mud is not stabilizing the well, a “ram” preventer is activated. The ram preventer is comprised of two thick, steel rams that close on the drill string from opposite sides. The ends of the ram preventer have a semi-circular cutout with an integrated stiff rubber gasket to seal around the drill string. The ram preventer can react thousands of pounds per square inch pressure, and its rare that a well will go out of control after this stop-gap is activated.
However, should neither the annular or ram preventers do the trick, the last line of defense is the “shear” preventer. It operates similarly to the ram preventers, but instead of rubber gaskets at the ends of the steel rams, they are sharpened and act like a gullotine cutter. The shear preventer indeed shears through the drill string and completely closes off the flow of oil or gas through the BOP stack.
Not knowing any of the details, I can only surmise that either the BOP stack failed (highly unlikely) or the kick caused the casing to blow out sideways at a point below the BOP stack. That’s a sucky situation because it’s so hard to fix.
There have been several large blowouts in the Gulf of Mexico, not to mention the world. More is given below…
Pressure Injection Grouting