Aubrey Kerr commemorates the 50th Anniversary of the Atlantic No.3 blowout by recently republishing this book which is on the best seller list and is for sale exclusively at DeMille's Book Store, 815 - 8th Avenue S.W., Calgary.
Excerpt from Book
The tumultuous chain of events on this freehold quarter, just one mile east of Imperial Leduc's 1947 discovery, commenced in the summer of 1947 with Frank McMahon breaking Imperial Oil's lease (signed in September 1946; bonus: 5 cents/acre). With the help of "Bus" Lacey, he top-leased, paying the Rebus family a bonus of over $1,000 1 acre. ($175,000 plus 25,000 shares of Pacific Pete stock). (It is still a mystery as to how Frank detected the flaw in the Imperial document much less was able to raise the cash!)
Cody Spencer drilling contractor (General Petroleums) Atlantic. No.1 and No.2 were drilled without incident and were completed as good D-3 reef oil producers. No.3 was spudded in January 21, 1948, setting inadequate surface pipe (300 ft.). The well reached the pay zone at about 5,200 feet but the porosity (reef caverns?) was so great that the roughnecks could regain circulation only to lose it because the cement plugs just would not hold. Running out of patience and with day work eating up expenses, the decision (not unanimous) was taken: "drill dry" (using water).
Mud and water dropped out of sight in the hole. The well blew out on March 8, spewing 15,000 bid of light crude. When the frost came out of the ground, the thawed shallow beds had become charged with oil (insufficient surface pipe) and a mass of craters took over the job of producing the crude.
After many attempts, Ian Mckinnon, Chairman of the Conservation Board, was forced to bite the bullet and, by the authority vested in him, reluctantly seized the wild well on May 12. The operation was handed over to V.J. "Tip Moroney, Imperial Oil's no-nonsense seasoned veteran of blow-outs in South America.
V.J. immediately hired two more steam rigs to drill two directional holes, one 780 feet west of No.3 well and the other to the south. Unlike today's finger-tip technology, these two relief holes were plagued by whipstocking problems and hole troubles.
Finally on September 2, West Relief had reached total depth and stated injecting 36,000 bbls/d of water across 500 feet of acidized shale into the D-3 formation.
After the Board, as Trustee, had paid all its bills, it still had $1,000,000 from crude revenue which it handed over to Frank McMahon in early 1949. That's how Frank was able to start on his way to building a gas pipeline from northeast B.C. to northwest U.S.A.
And the Rebus lessors? They had collected huge royalty revenues up until the Board took over. Neither they nor Frank had been in any hurry to kill the well, but the bald facts are that without Moroney in charge, the entire reservoir could conceivably have been depleted with unbelievable losses to Imperial, 82% owner of the field. As such, nothing would therefore have been left for Probe Exploration 50 years later.