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Museum Of Offshore Operations

Galveston, Texas,
page started Mar 11, 2017

On a trip to see an IBM 402 accounting machine in action, in Conroe, Texas,
we also visited Galveston and the Ocean Star Offshore Drilling Rig Museum and Education Center.
This was two months after the "Deepwater Horizon" fire, explosions and oil spill of April 20, 2010.
I had expected a big interested crowd at the museum - however, we were almost alone.

Below are pictures I took in a hurried four hour tour of the museum.
Some pictures are numbered, hoping for expert commentary.

The museum is in the dock area of Galveston, definitely industrial! And the view across the bay at some "rigs" for off-shore oil work. Approaching the Ocean Star Offshore Drilling Rig Museum and Education Center. Clearly this harbor is not as poluted as it could be :-))
The entrance building, off to the right of the picture above. Two book for sale to tempt the visitor.
However, everything about oil is expensive, each was more than $50.

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The rotating cone drill bits shown here were the foundation of the Hughes fortune. To carry away (up the drill shaft) the chips of broken rocks, drill "mud" was forced down the inside of the rotating drill pipe.

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These are high strength tapered threaded joints. They couple successive length of high strength seamless drill pipe. Standard screw cutting lathes, fitted with a tapered guide bar, can cut these tapered threads. As noted elsewhere, 30 foot sections of drill pipe (stem) were standard. How do you put a hole down a 30 foot high strength pipe? mandrel piercing, crossed rolls, page 27

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from RigZone training Used to rotate the drill string during the drilling process, the top drive is a motor that is suspended from the derrick, or mast, of the rig. These power swivels boast at least 1,000 horsepower that turn a shaft to which the drill string is screwed. Replacing the traditional Kelly or rotary table, the top drive lessens the manual labor involved in drilling, as well as many associated risks. ... A top drive is capable of drilling with three joints stands, instead of just one pipe at a time.

oil well fires
- Red Adair (June 18, 1915 August 7, 2004) retired 1993
- wild well
- wild well

A few words about undersea drilling, grossly stolen from
"RUN TO FAILURE - BP and the making of the Deepwater Horizon disaster" by Abrahm Lustgarten

A Delicate Balance - page 295


The Deepwater Horizon rig, of course, floated atop the water, and the Macondo well sat at the bottom of the gulf. Between them a mile- long connection called a riser pipe ran from the very top of the rig's derrick, down through the drill floor and the middle of the rig, past the lower decks, and into the water, all the way to the seafloor. Only then, after the riser passed through a large safety valve device called a blowout preventer, did it reach the top of the Macondo well. By design, the well would be drilled from that point nearly three miles farther into the earth in search of oil. To begin drilling a deepwater well like Macondo, the crew first dangles a mile-long string of drill pipe into the ocean to drop what they call a jet pipe-a 36-inch-diameter, three-quarter-inch-thick heavy section of steel pipe - like a dart into the silty ocean floor. The pipe, under the force of its own weight, sinks three hundred feet into the mud, creating a starter wellbore in which the drilling can safely begin without the soft mud walls collapsing in on themselves. Once the jet pipe has hit solid rock, the drill string coming from the rig's derrick, with a drill bit at the end and driven by the torque of the engines way above on the floating platform, starts to burrow into the earth.

From here, a well is drilled in stages. First, a 36-inch-wide hole is drilled for several thousand feet, and lined with a 36-inch pipe, called a conductor casing. To fix the casing in place, cement is pumped down into the well through the drill string into the bottom, where it is forced out the sides and squeezed back upward, or circulated, into the small space left between the raw dirt wall of the wellbore and the conductor casing, sealing it in place against the earth. Then the process is repeated with incrementally smaller sections of pipe the deeper

A Delicate Balance - page 296

the well is drilled. In the Macondo, BP would run a 28-inch casing to 6,200 feet, then a 22-inch casing to 7,900 feet, and so on, until the last section of the well, which would wind up calling for a narrow, 7-inch-wide pipe. The encased hole becomes the architectural structure of the well, allowing another narrower string of pipe, called production string, to be run from top to bottom, on the inside, to ferry the oil. In between those telescoping casing layers and the production string is a long open space-the well's main annulus.

One of the toughest parts of drilling a well in the Gulf of Mexico is balancing the awesome difference in what is called hydrostatic pressure between the inside of the well and the outside. This is where many wells can go wrong. Far beneath the waters of the gulf and under the immense weight of miles of rock piled on top, the natural pressure from the earth constantly threatens to collapse the well, or force water, oil, or gas trapped in pores in the rock into the wellbore. If hydrocarbons under pressure hit the well-and if they find their way up through either the drill pipe or the long open annulus-they are likely to rush out toward the top in a violent kick, risking a blowout. To control that dynamic, drilling companies use a heavy mud-a dirty mixture of viscous synthetic fluids, polymers, oil, and chemicals with a lead-like heft-to balance that pressure inside the well. The idea is to make sure the outward pressure exerted by the mud constantly matches the inward pressure exerted by the geologic formation. As long as the two remain equal, there is balance and stability and the walls hold up. The mud can be twice as dense as water, and twice the weight. It is constantly circulated down the drill pipe, out of the drill bit, and then flows back up the annular space between the drill pipe and the casing, cooling the machinery, clearing away debris, and, most importantly, maintaining the well's delicate balance of pressure.

But the earth, too, can be fragile. If the drilling mud gets too heavy, the force of its weight can fracture the rock inside the well, risking a collapse, or allowing the mud to seep out into the cracks it creates. Since every drop of fluid that is pumped down into a well is circulated back up through the annulus toward the surface, its volume is strictly accounted for. When fluids are lost in a weakened well, the result is a loss of circulation: a crack exists in the wellbore structure so significant that some of the drilling mud has drained out. If that happens,

A Delicate Balance - page 297

the well can become unstable, again risking a blowout, or the loss of the well. For a process relying on brute force and immense machinery, it's an extraordinarily delicate balance that ultimately decides the fate of a deepwater well.