A few years ago I was scheduled to go offshore to a production platform in the Gulf of Mexico.
The platform had some problems with their Turbine/Compressor train and my job was to find out what was wrong and see that the problem was solved. The platform is located 60 some miles off the coast of Louisiana over the Mississippi Canyon with multiple wells feeding into the platform. The Mississippi Canyon is a underwater canyon that is 3, 000 feet deep. Upon arrival I had the operator of the remote operated submersible call me over and he said “Cecil, you have got to see this”.
This turned out to be a video clip that I have below. Now this platform had one (1) wellhead that leaked 5 times in a space of 4 weeks, which is highly unusual. The fifth time the remote submersible was sent down to tighten the seals, they found out what was causing the well to leak.
It seems like this 35 foot juvenile Sperm Whale was using the pipe coming out of the top of the wellhead to scratch her belly on. Now Sperm Whales are normally northern (cold) water creatures, so the first point is “What is this Sperm Whale doing in the middle of the Gulf of Mexico?”. The other point is this whale was diving 3,000 feet in total darkness with enough precision to rub her belly on the pipe, not crash into it. So this was a planned action by the whale because you cannot tell me that the action is instinctive.
It was thought that the flow of oil & gas through the wellhead/piping was producing a noise and vibration in the water that had attracted the whale to the piping in the first place. A noise device attached to the piping that produced noises like a Orca (Killer Whale) seemed to end the problem.