October 23, 2023 | Susan Napier-Sewell

Remembering an Accident: Usumacinta Jack-up Blowout

Usumacinta Jack-up

The Usumacinta Jack-up was in the Gulf of Mexico in 2007 when a storm caused the rig to collide with a wellhead.

The disaster of the Usumacinta Jack-up involved a collision between a rig and a platform, causing the deaths of 22 workers on October 23, 2007, in the Bay of Campeche, Gulf of Mexico.

PEMEX contracted the Usumacinta Jack-up rig to moved alongside its Kab-101 platform to complete drilling of the Kab-103 well. While there, a storm developed bringing winds of 130km/h and waves as high as 8m. The PEMEX director of exploration and production, Carlos Morales, described the storm as “extreme weather conditions we’ve never registered before.”

The rig’s anchor points were not fully secured, so the rig soon broke free and began oscillating with the seas. The Usumacinta’s cantilever deck then hit the production valve tree on the Kab-101 platform. The resulting oil and gas leakage led to the closure of safety valves on two production wells at the platform. However, crew members could not seal the valves completely and the leaks continued. Oil and gas then ignited, and the 73 crew members moved to evacuate in two lifeboats.

Soon after, one of the lifeboats began filling with water, eventually capsizing. A large wave overturned the other lifeboat, which reached the shore upside-down the next day with 12 survivors on top.  During evacuation, 21 people died. One worker went missing in the rescue operation.

The Usumacinta Jack-up also suffered two more fire breakouts in the following month, during well control operations. These fires were extinguished without any further loss of life, and the well was brought back under control by the middle of December 2007. PEMEX reported losing approximately 5,000 barrels of oil from the well.

Source: Offshore Technology,Usumacinta Jack-up disaster, Mexican Gulf of Mexico, 2007.”

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Accident, Investigations
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