ENSCO International Incorporated and Forest Oil Corporation reported that one of ENSCO's jackup rigs sustained extensive damage while operating in the Gulf of Mexico
. ENSCO 51 was on location in Eugene Island Block 273 drilling a development well over a platform (the ``A'' platform) for its customer, Forest, the operator of the block. Eugene Island Block 273 is located approximately 75 miles offshore.
Shortly after midnight on Thursday, March 1, approximately fifteen hours after running and cementing a third casing string at approximately 1650 feet, an annular flow was detected. The volume of the gas discharge continued to increase. All personnel were safely evacuated from the rig. Offshore supply vessels equipped with water cannons were dispatched and began to deluge the platform. On Friday morning, March 2, at approximately 3:30 a.m., the well ignited and the resulting fire caused extensive damage to the rig's substructure, drill floor and derrick. Plans are being finalized to mobilize ENSCO 55 to drill a relief well. It is expected that the rig will be on location next week.
Additionally, efforts are underway to extinguish the well fire and cap the well. Special equipment is on location, and the fire, rig and the adjacent platform are being deluged with water. If these measures are not successful, a relief well will be drilled, and measures will be prosecuted until the fire is extinguished and the flow from the well has been contained.
The ENSCO 51 is fully insured and ENSCO anticipates damage to the rig to be recoverable from such insurance coverage. ENSCO, headquartered in Dallas, Texas, provides contract drilling and marine transportation services to the international petroleum industry. - (Reuters)