Photo: The Well Blowout on February 24th near Hythe Alberta – Submitted by Josh Ludwig
By Dwight Ford
Alberta’s Calgary-based Energy Resources Conservation Board has approved a plan to regain control of the sour gas well that caught fire, after a February 24th blowout 19 kilometers northwest of Hythe.
As reported earlier, the well is licensed to Canadian Natural Resources Limited and over the last several days, well control specialists have cleared the site and done an assessment on the wellhead.
The plan, which went into effect yesterday afternoon, has both a primary and a secondary approach.
The primary approach involves temporarily putting the fire out to install new blowout preventers, enabling any gas being produced by the well to be channeled to a separator and burned off through a flare stack.
It is estimated the fire will be out for approximately 30 minutes, while the blowout preventers are installed and it’s possible that during that period gas containing trace amounts of H 2 S will be released into the atmosphere.
However a board news release says seven mobile air quality monitoring units will be in the area to detect any off-lease H 2 S emissions.
Gaining control of the well by a top entry is also part of the primary approach and drilling mud is pumped downhole to restore equilibrium in the geological formation, and end the flow of gas to the surface.
It’s expected it will take several days to completely regain control and should the primary method prove unsuccessful, the secondary means of control is to complete the drilling of a relief well.
The board release adds there have been no readings of sour gas to date and there’s no threat to public safety at this time.