Science: How to Wreck an Oil Well

Ever since the Nazis started streaking like fire toward Russia's oilfields, observers have wondered: How do you wreck an oil well?

An oil well is a deep, narrow, steel-lined hole in the ground. To destroy a well permanently, the steel casing must be damaged beyond repair, the shaft hopelessly plugged, or the oil supply itself dissipated. Anything else is temporary—fires can be put out, pumps and surface apparatus replaced.

There are a number of techniques for doing these things, each of which has its disadvantages:

> Drowning is slowest, most effective, most difficult. Mud and...

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