Apache case shows proper response to potential disaster

Sunday’s column, available on houstonchronicle.com:

In the response to what could have been another disaster in the Gulf of Mexico, we see an example of how companies ought to react.

Houston-based Apache Corp. recently detected a “kick” on one of its natural gas wells in the Gulf of Mexico, a sign of a potentially dangerous uncontrolled flow of fluid in the well.

The blowout aboard the Deepwater Horizon in 2010 that killed 11 men began with just such a flow of explosive fluid that, tragically, wasn’t recognized.

In this case, though, Apache detected the flow, activated the blowout preventer and evacuated workers from the rig. It reported the incident to federal regulators and brought in Boots & Coots, the well control company, to kill the well. No lives were lost, no injuries were sustained, no environmental damage was detected.

Apache’s response, once the kick was detected, should serve as an example for other operators in the Gulf.

Read more here.