Office of Conservation Orders Texas Brine To Assess And Abate Natural Gas In Bayou Corne Area
Order draws from scientific evidence that shows Texas Brine cavern failure led to crude oil and natural gas reaching surface
BATON ROUGE – Louisiana Commissioner of Conservation James Welsh today ordered Texas Brine LLC to take action to assess and abate threats to public safety and the environment caused by the failure of its abandoned brine cavern on the west side of the Napoleonville Salt Dome, including the presence of natural gas in the area ground water aquifer.
Welsh said that order is based on analysis by the Office of Conservation and expert consultants with the Office’s contracted agent, Shaw Environmental and Infrastructure, and came as a result of the latest information from sampling and testing of water, natural gas bubbling sites, the sinkhole area and the contents and structure of the failed cavern, along with previously developed data on conditions in and around the salt dome and Bayou Corne area.
Welsh noted that, based on “fingerprint” analysis and other data, the source of the crude oil and natural gas that have been observed at the surface in the Bayou Corne area appears to be one or more naturally occurring oil and natural gas formations, and that the preponderance of scientific evidence indicates that the failure of the sidewall of the Texas Brine cavern provided a pathway up to the aquifer and the surface for oil and natural gas that had previously been confined thousands of feet below.
“We have been driven by scientific data in all of our efforts to determine the cause of the natural gas found in the aquifer, the formation of the sinkhole, and the presence of crude oil found on the surface of the sinkhole,” Welsh said.
As part of additional requirements for Texas Brine under the existing Declaration of Emergency and Directive, the company is required first and foremost to “undertake any and all necessary actions to assess for and abate threats to safety and the environment, including the natural gas in the aquifer.”
In addition, Texas Brine is ordered to:
- Maintain stability of pressure in the failed cavern to prevent additional changes to the cavern or sinkhole due to pressure changes
- Install monitoring wells in the Bayou Corne community to monitor water quality and pressures, as well as elevation benchmarks within the community for subsidence monitoring
- Install pressure monitor at wellhead of the cavern re-entry well, designed to provide real-time data to parish emergency response agencies of any rapid pressure change
- Upgrade and expand seismic monitoring array to cover a wider area and include real-time data processing and interpretation of micro-seismic data, with seismic data reported in real-time to parish emergency response agencies
- Install continuous water level monitoring station at the sinkhole
- Collect and interpret geophysical data to determine the exact structure of the zone of failure and its impact on the surface and subsurface
Welsh said that the Office of Conservation is also continuing the effort, in coordination with Shaw Environmental, to establish and expand the array of observation/vent wells to provide for removal of natural gas found in the aquifer near the Bayou Corne community.
“Establishing how natural gas reached the aquifer and what caused the formation of the sinkhole was an important step in the process, but the work is not yet done. We will continue to hold Texas Brine accountable and ensure that this work is completed as quickly as possible, in a manner that protects their safety and the environment,” Welsh said.
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