2:20 p.m. Release from DNR, Estimated Cavern Entry

Office of Conservation: Texas Brine Likely to Enter Abandoned Brine Cavern Thursday

Company estimates entry into cavern by late afternoon Thursday

BATON ROUGE –Louisiana Commissioner of Conservation James Welsh announced today that Texas Brine LLC has reported that its investigatory well into the company’s abandoned salt brine cavern in the Napoleonville Salt Dome in Assumption Parish is expected to reach and enter the top of the cavern late Thursday afternoon.

Texas Brine sent the report Wednesday morning, in compliance with instruction from the Office of Conservation to give a minimum of 24 hours’ notice prior to the well entering the cavern. The Office also requires Texas Brine to give at least 24 hours prior notice before sampling any salt cavern material or contents for testing, to allow state agencies to take samples of their own.

Welsh initially issued the order requiring the drilling of the investigatory well on August 9th as part of the Office of Conservation’s effort to protect public safety by acting to evaluate likely causes of ongoing natural gas bubbling and the formation of a sinkhole/slurry area near the Bayou Corne community.

Thursday will mark the 33rd  day since drilling operations began, and the 39th since the permit was issued. Barring any unexpected downhole conditions, tomorrow’s cavern entry would be ahead of schedule for the 40-day drill that was originally estimated in mid-August – an estimate that did not include having to shut down operations for four days due to Hurricane Isaac.

“The Office of Conservation committed from the start that we would maintain close oversight over this project to ensure it continued to move forward as swiftly as possible, without sacrificing the safety of the public and the workers on site,” Welsh said. “The focus will now be on completing the well and assessing the status of the cavern and its contents to establish what role it may play in the nearby sinkhole and the natural gas that has been detected in the area.”

Welsh noted that the Science Work Group created to provide guidance for the responses to the ongoing situation in Assumption Parish will be meeting again today to discuss the appropriate testing, sampling and processes used to evaluate the cavern, its contents and its potential role in the ongoing situation. The Science Work Group was originally called together to make use of the best science and expertise to support the effort to assess potential causes and recommended responses to the sinkhole/slurry area and natural gas flowing through the Mississippi River Alluvial Aquifer.

At the same time that Texas Brine is nearing the top of its cavern, the Office of Conservation is also working with all companies operating on the Napoleonville Salt Dome to provide them with guidance on his order that they all assess the presence of natural gas in both the ground water aquifer and the salt dome cap rock beneath their operations; capture, vent or flare any natural gas that is encountered; and analyze any potential impacts to ground water.