Tom Kirkman

Chicken Feathers aren't used much any more in Oil Wells

Recommended Posts

Here's a sprawling, wild rollercoaster of an Oil & Gas history tale, mostly around Alberta.

@Mike Shellman clearly had fun writing about this true adventure, and I thoroughly enjoyed reading it.


Through a 40 Acre Choke

"... The No. 3 well was drilled to 5,331 feet TD by March, in the D-3 zone, and open-hole logged by Schlumberger. During a clean up trip  complete circulation was lost and shit hit the fan when the well came to see them and the Hosmer BOP failed.


The well  blew out of control for days, then  calmed down enough to get tied onto the kelly and  a massive 11,000 sack cement squeeze was pumped by Halli  to kill the well. Story was  that numerous hands quit that day, tired of toting around and ripping open 90 pound sacks of cement for twelve straight hours, which I get, completely. Besides, in late March it was probably still cold enough in Alberta to freeze snot.

The squeezed failed but slowed the flow down enough for Atlantic hands to get  the Hosmer Button off the casing head. A bladder type Hydrill was then nippled up and pumping down the drill pipe was re-commenced, again, to kill the well.

In March 90 sacks of mud were shoved in to the No. 3 well along with 43 tons of cotton seed hulls, 21 tons of sawdust, water, mud, lime and almost a half ton of chicken feathers. I am not kidding. 

The drill pipe plugged at the bit, probably with chicken feathers,  and the well could no longer be circulated. ..."


Daily drilling report, March 8, 1948, after the well first started blowing.

  • Like 1
  • Upvote 3

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

Back in the day you used to be able to buy big bags of chicken feathers to use as LCM. A colleague, after a few drinks while on his off tour, loaded his pickup truck up with this LCM, slit the bags open, and drove around town (it was either Rocky Mountain House or Red Horse in Canada). Law enforcement finally caught him and gave him a broom to keep him busy.

I have also heard of sugarcane being cut to short pieces, ground up, and pumped down hole as LCM. Supposedly it worked fine in that application.

I personally have seen those cocoa mats, which are commonly used as doormats, lowered over the side of a drillship to plug a hole in the hull caused by a collision with a workboat. It slowed the inrush of water enough, after swelling, to allow a temporary fix from inside of the hull.

Before the advent of non-rotating cement plugs, I have heard of people circulating down broken bottles to aid in drilling out the plugs.

Thinking 'out of the box' to get the job done used to be fairly common.


  • Like 1
  • Great Response! 1
  • Upvote 1

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

You are posting as a guest. If you have an account, please sign in.
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.