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Last May, the RIG-45 team received information about the next oil well that we would be repairing: CLA-0094. Just from reading the name we immediately inferred that we were going to deal with a really old well.

The well was originally drilled in October 1973 by the C-204 Drilling Barge. That drilling rig was retired a long time ago, and it was not like the inland barges that are working now in Lake Maracaibo. It was a split rig, where the derrick was separated from the barge and it had to be armed on above the foundation of the well. This type of foundation is known as a Light Rig Mover foundation and it is formed by four heads with two piles each and a square metal frame 24’ x 24’ approximately.

If you drive along the east coast of Lake Maracaibo you can actually see some derricks still standing over inactive wells, they were left there to keep the oilfield landscape.

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Old derricks photographed from the eastern shore of Lake Maracaibo (Cabimas, Zulia), and an active pump jack in the foreground. Photo courtesy of venelogia.com/archivos/9711/.

Estimated to take 20 days to complete, we repaired this well in 12.5 days and here are the 7 steps we took to achieve this goal…

  1. The first thing we do before working on any well is an inspection of the location before the rig move. This is very important to determine whether the barge can fit in the well location or not. During the inspection, we could see that both the well foundation and the wellhead were not in very good condition. Though it would be a real challenge, the job could be done.
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CLA-0094 well, Lake Maracaibo.

About The Author Renato González

I am a Petroleum Engineer working offshore, so I pretty much spend half of my time in an oil rig and I'm more than happy about it. Lake Maracaibo used to scare the heck out of me when I was a kid because of its size, and now I sail across it every week, what do you know?! Writing is one of my hobbies and whenever I find some time between shifts I like to share my experiences on the oilpatch. I also like jogging and working out, especially when I'm offshore; if you think you eat a lot, try living on a Rig, you just can stop doing it.