(By Greg Rourke) – So the other day I was drilling a broken bolt to extract it. I didn’t center punch it correctly, so when I drilled it I drilled partially into the part I was trying to save. I then had to weld up the hole, grind it smooth and then correctly drill and tap a new hole. Meh, I get paid by the hour. Here’s the story of a hole that was misdrilled and caused a bit more of a situation.
It seems a drilling contractor was drilling for oil on behalf of Texaco. Their rig was on the water on Lake Peigneur in Louisiana, a short distance from New Iberia where the best hot sauce comes from. Lake Peigneur was a 1300 acre fresh water lake, which had an average depth of about 11 feet. 1000 feet below the water was a salt mine, which had been functioning without incident for 80 years. The drilling crew knew the salt mine was there, and located their rig on what they thought were the proper coordinates. They were wrong.
The trouble started when the bit got stuck about 1200 feet down. While trying to unstick it they noticed the rig leaning precariously, which they wisely abandoned just in time to watch it disappear into what was once an 11 foot deep lake. At the same time the salt miners noticed the mine filling with water and an oil rig, they also decided to clock out early. All 55 made it out, likely due to an evacuation drill run the day before.
At this point things went from very bad to extremely very awfully bad. The lake drained through the drilled hole, dissolving the pillars supporting the salt mine. The swirling vortex of death then sucked down all the barges with drilling equipment, a tug boat, an island, and a parking lot. A canal previously flowing out of the lake and into the Gulf Of Mexico now flowed salt water backwards into the lake, sucking into it more barges and creating a 150 foot high waterfall. A 400 foot high geyser sprayed out of the mine shafts.
So now Lake Peigneur is salt water and 1000 feet deep. The salt mine is no longer, and Texaco never did get any oil but did get to write several large checks. No deaths resulted from the miscalculation, so there’s that.
My waste of an hour doesn’t seem so bad now, does it?