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Blow-Out: Trails & Errors
I: To The Big Cement Job

Page 1 | 2 | 3 | 4

Big Cement Job at Imperial No. 48When McMahon was getting ready to drill, the northwest extremity of the quarter section was occupied by a water storage pit, an integral part of Hector's water system.

Shortly after March 8, because of the natural slope to the northwest, bulldozers constructed a drainage system toward this pond which then became the nucleus of a holding facility for the run-away crude production. Its capacity was increased by bulldozers beading up mud and snow dykes. But as the snow melted during break-up, leaks developed and some oil ran down the north-south road allowance and got into the North Saskatchewan River.

Bill McKellar recalls warning Lyle that oil was leaking out but Caspell was reported to have not paid attention to him. Don Whitney, previously mentioned in Chapter 9, recalls repairing the dyke wails especially after complaints were heard of an oily taste in Edmonton's drinking water. Bill McKellar, now retired at Blind Bay, British Columbia, had just arrived in town and noted: ''Turner Valley was in Leduc", because all his friends had come there for the boom. He ran into Cody Spencer, who took him on as lease foreman. His crew's job was to prepare well sites, and dig cellars. When the well blew out on March 8, Al Wright, field superintendent, called him to arrange the containment of the oil.

The second day after the blow-out, heavy mud quieted the well down enough to re-install the Hosmer, after several attempts. The Viking was still kicking. The cold weather (-25Q F.) slowed down clean-up operations and kept the crew busy thawing out lines. Once again, let Hughie Leiper pick up the story:

    ...It was 10 o'clock the night after and we were using the two steam pumps and Cody Spencer came up to me and from a reading of the Cameron mud gauge and pumping down into the well, the pressure was decreasing considerably and Cody was all smiles and I can remember him yelling in my ear: "Hughie, we got this thing licked". A few minutes later, Dave Gray drove up and said "I just drove by some shot holes about a quarter of a mile away and there is mud and gas blowing up out of them". Imperial Leduc No. 32, diagonal offset to No, 3 also had to shut down because of gas escaping up into the boiler house.1

On March 11, when the 7 in. flow line was opened to bleed off the gas, chunks of shale battered the assembly until the 2 in. fill-up line elbow was knocked off, Dave Gray comments: "This was all done under Cody Spencer, the rest of us were having fits (and) Cody was always grabbing the brake"!2 Over the next week it was a repetition of cement jobs, mud pressure on the drill pipe and leaks on the 7 in. flow line.

On March 15, Bill Kinghorn set up his wire line unit and ran in with an impression block. Kinghorn states he was up to his waist in oil at the time. Upon retrieval, according to Kinghorn, the impression block indicated that it had hit the Totco ring at the top of the bit. Dave Gray tends to dispute this because he thinks there should have been cement there. The lubricator was then replaced with a Halliburton circulating head.

At about this time the decision was taken to shoot off the now stuck drill pipe as near to the bit as possible, pull it out and then go in and side-track. The first step in this operation was to pump a rubber wiper plug down to the bit and check its depth with the Halliburton wire line unit. However, the sinker bar stuck. Barber Machine made up a special cutter actuated by a go-devil to be run on the wire to sever it, This was accomplished at 2,000 ft., not at total depth as was hoped.

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