FORCEFUL: About 200m of steel drill pipe was forcibly ejected from a gas well due to an unplanned release of gas at high pressure. The gas well was being decommissioned at the time. Some workers were put at serious risk of harm from falling pipes.
FORCEFUL: About 200m of steel drill pipe was forcibly ejected from a gas well due to an unplanned release of gas at high pressure. The gas well was being decommissioned at the time. Some workers were put at serious risk of harm from falling pipes.

200m of steel drill pipes blown into air in July CSG mishap

A DANGEROUS incident that occurred during the decommissioning of one of Metgasco's gas wells near Casino in July is the subject of an inquiry by the NSW Mine Safety Investigation Unit.

On July 14 this year six Metgasco workers were placed into a "very high" risk situation during the shutdown operation of the Kingfisher E01 well on the outskirts of Casino, when 200m of steel drill pipes shot out of the well without warning.

The incident followed an attempt to drill through a special plug installed 200m down the 2km well shaft to "bleed off" rising pressure.

In an indication of the force, one of the drill pipes was ejected out of the drill site and into a neighbouring paddock

But the level of pressure build-up was much higher than predicted.

Flying metres into the air, the pipes fell to earth around the site, missing the six fleeing workers but causing extensive damage to surrounding equipment.

In an indication of the force, one of the drill pipes was ejected out of the drill site and into a neighbouring paddock.

The Mine Safety Investigation Unit reported the well had experienced "continuously rising pressure" during its lifespan due to loss of well integrity.

"Loss of integrity ... meant that gas under pressure could migrate between the inside and outside of the (well) casing," it stated.

It suggested efforts to monitor and control this building pressure had failed; one of the causes was an "insufficient understanding" of the level of pressure build-up, and the plug was installed too close to the surface.

Metgasco CEO Peter Henderson said the company took safety extremely seriously and would issue a further statement tomorrow.

No fines have been issued.


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