4:50 p.m. DNR Press Release


For Immediate Release
Friday, Sept. 21, 2012
Contact: Phyllis Darensbourg, 225.342.0058

Office of Conservation Offers Update on Bayou Corne-Area Natural Gas Efforts, Provides Sampling Data
Interpreting natural gas analysis requires greater expertise and time than crude oil

BATON ROUGE – Louisiana Commissioner of Conservation James Welsh said today that, though the review is still ongoing of natural gas samples taken in the Bayou Corne area, the Office of Conservation is making the sample data available on its website to ensure continued transparency in the response effort to natural gas found in ground water in the area near Bayou Corne.

Welsh said that the process of getting a unique “fingerprint” for samples of natural gas requires greater expertise and time than making the same kind of analysis for crude oil, as has been done in oil spills in the past. While crude oil is a very complex compound, allowing many more data points for analysis and comparison – most forms of natural gas are extremely simple compounds with minute differentiations, allowing less criteria for analysis and comparison.

“Our top focus is identifying this natural gas so we can make the results available to the public and hold any contributing party accountable. Because there are several different ways to read natural gas, these samples require specialized interpretation and often, additional samples for expert analysis. The bottom line is the Office of Conservation will identify this natural gas and will make the data available as soon as it is determined.” Welsh said.

The Office of Conservation initially contracted with Illinois-based Isotech Laboratories to analyze samples taken from areas of natural gas bubbling sites in Bayou Corne, the Mississippi River Alluvial Aquifer, and other sample sites as part of an effort to identify sources of the natural gas by attempting to match its makeup with that of known natural gas storage and transportation operations. This process is informally referred to as “fingerprinting” the natural gas.

As Isotech works to analyze and establish the basic components in the natural gas samples, the Office of Conservation sought out additional experts to more distinctly identify components of the natural gas and offer a clearer conclusion of whether the samples match known natural gas operations in the area, such as producing wells, pipelines and storage caverns.

In order to take the next step in determining the source of the natural gas, the Office instructed its contractor, the Shaw Group, to engage the services of an additional specialized expert who has requested that additional data be collected and analyzed so the fingerprint of the natural gas can be identified as soon as possible. The Office of Conservation anticipates finding a solution in the coming days and will make the results available as soon as they are obtained.

To see the data gathered from natural gas samples in the area, go to http://dnr.louisiana.gov/index.cfm?md=pagebuilder&tmp=home&pid=961 .