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Safety Factor

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posted by Jay on September 14th, 2009 at 8:37 PM

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Jim Boone was 6 feet 9 inches tall and weighed 295 lbs. Brother Dave Davis was 6 feet 6 inches tall and weighed 285 lbs. Ed Herring was 6 feet 4 inches tall and weighed 250 lbs. and I ain’t no midget myself. I'm Jay Colquitt but they call me Cash because my my Gold and Diamond Rolex watch. When I first went to work for Halliburton I weighed 263 lbs. and I made $2.63 an hour so I guess I was paid by the pound. Even big guys can die very fast. Working with high pressures is an art form and Halliburton Services had the best of the best. No other service company could touch Halliburton when it came to horsepower.
Max, the Halliburton Services guru for Mechanical Research and Development put a group of men together that could handle these extremely high pressures. South of Jackson, Mississippi in the Piney Woods an oil company had a sour gas well that had blown out and had been killed with heavy mud. All we needed to do was circulate the well with diesel. The company man had the program for us to follow and it called for us to test the surface equipment and discharge lines to 30,000 psi. Since Jim was from Laurel, Mississippi and knew the local personnel he would be the lead off hand in charge.
Jim called Max to alert him that the oil company wanted us to test our equipment to such extreme pressures that had never been done in the field before. Max assured Jim that Halliburton had built a “Safety Factor” into these pumps and for Jim to proceed as instructed by the oil company. Reluctantly, Jim agreed but voiced his concern. No one had ever seen 30,000 psi in the field and definitely not at this large volume.
In a test cell in Duncan 30,000 psi isn’t that hard to handle in very small volumes. This discharge iron was like 9 in. drill collars with a 3 in. inside diameter. The iron was named “Big Inch” and was clamped together with F style Grayloc clamps with 11 in. hubs. The iron off the back of the pumps was called “Little Inch” and it had “C” style Grayloc clamps. There were no threaded connections with working pressures like this. Halliburton supplied the best and Duncan had built a “Safety Factor” into these HT-1000 pumps. This stuff is really dangerous and without the “Safety Factor” we would be in real trouble.
The company man wanted us to stroke the HT-1000 pumps to pressure up on the discharge lines and manifolds. These pumps had 2 3/8 in. plungers with a 60 in. stroke. When you already have pressure on the system it does not take much plunger movement to increase the pressure. These pumps had never seen more than 22,000 or 23,000 psi before.
Once we got to this point Jim decided to call and make sure that Max was aware of just what we were doing. The oil company had a phone on location. We all were standing around waiting for Max to sprinkle his holy water on it. Max assured Jim that the “Safety Factor” would cover whatever the oil company wanted to do. He told us to go ahead and pressure up with the pumps. We wanted to jack the pressure in with a hydraulic jack so that we could control the volume pumped. We jumped the pressure from 22,000 psi instantly to 27,500 psi by stroking the HT-1000 pump. Just a little bit of fluid would create a bunch of pressure quick. We had to jack in the rest of the pressure and we all knew it except the company man.
The problem was that the company man had other instructions. We knew that we had this “Safety Factor” and we all felt very good about it. After we had a big discussion, Jim decided to call Max to find out just what this “Safety Factor” is.
Max was the genius that I have mentioned in previous stories. Max would be silent on the phone until he could give you the proper answer. After waiting a good 10 minutes for the all knowing wizard to enlighten us with the answer, Max said, “Jim, the “Safety Factor” is the 500 miles between Jackson, Mississippi and Duncan, Oklahoma.” He then told Jim to tell the Company Man that from this point on we would and could only control the pressure with the hydraulic jack.
The Company Man agreed with Max and we began pressuring up by using the hydraulic jack. When we got to 29,000 psi before the Company Man made us stop. He thought that 29,000 psi was enough. By this time we wanted to continue to 30,000 psi. It had not blown up with the 29,000 psi on it and it probably could stand a little more. As it turned out the 29,000 psi was the maximum pressure that we were allowed to achieve.
Our next problem turned out to be the opening of the valve to release the pressure. Try to imagine 4 big fat boys all hanging on to a 20 ft. joint of 2 in. discharge iron attempting to open the 1.3 in. ID valve. As you guessed, this valve did not want to open. When it did open, there were four fat boys in a pile. The force of the released pressure blew down trees in the Piney Woods. It sounded like a cannon going off.
When we began to circulate the well our highest pressure was 21,500 psi with a rate of 1.5 Bbl. per minute. As the heavy mud was brought up and out of the hole the rate increased and the pressures went down. The well was ready to go back to production.
It was just another walk in the park.
Where to now, Boss? There was always somebody waiting on you.

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