3:30 p.m. Update from DNR

The Office of Conservation, in consultation with Assumption Parish Incident Command, is advising that the Texas Brine facility sinkhole appears to be undergoing a growth event, indicated by a recent upswing in measured seismic activity that began to decrease about the time of this morning’s release of debris and crude oil to the top of the sinkhole, as well as the appearance of cracks on the surface of the Oxy 3 well pad, located directly above Texas Brine’s failed cavern and on the eastern side of the sinkhole.

Monitoring of seismic activity and direct field observations from ground level and overflights are part of the ongoing response to determine the potential extent of this latest growth event – one of several observed since the formation of the sinkhole. Observations indicate that the current growth event is centered on the east side of the sinkhole – possibly related to shifting of salt and material within the cavern collapse zone. After a period of heightened activity, the number and strength of sharp seismic events dropped markedly following the release of debris and hydrocarbons from the sinkhole – though impacts at the surface on the eastern side of the sinkhole will continue to be monitored closely.

Following the appearance of the well pad surface cracks on the southwestern corner of the Oxy 3 well pad, the Office of Conservation advised that personnel and equipment should be removed from the site to ensure safety while observation and analysis of the growth event are ongoing.
Though the exact timing and extent of episodic growth events cannot be predicted, the Office of Conservation and its consultants had identified the Oxy 3 well pad as being within the area of potential sinkhole growth, and has maintained constant monitoring of subsurface conditions and activity for signs of instability in order to act quickly to protect the safety of the public and workers on site.

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11:50 a.m. Update

There has been increased seismic activity near the cavern this morning as well as developments of cracks on Oxy 3 pad. At approximately 10:00 this morning, another burp occurred in the sinkhole. The State Police helicopter has arrived to provide aerial viewing. Additional information will be posted as it becomes available.

1:40 p.m. DNR Field Update

Office of Conservation
Bayou Corne Field Update
Jan. 15, 2013 Activities

Texas Brine Operations

Oxy 3-A Cavern Well –
Shut in, Vertical Seismic Profile underway

Texas Brine Facility Vent Well to Top of Aquifer (RW 1 on Oxy 2 well pad) –
Flaring gas at 27 mcf/day

Texas Brine Facility Vent Well to Top of Cap Rock (RW 2 on Oxy 2 well pad) –
Shut in pending plug and abandon

Texas Brine Facility Geophone Well (Between Oxy 2 & original Oxy 3 well pads) –
Ongoing monitoring for seismic activity, data available at http://folkworm.ceri.memphis.edu/heli_temp/

Texas Brine Facility Shallow Pressure Monitoring (TBC 1-3)

TBC 1 (Original Oxy 3 well pad)
Monitoring pressure

TBC 2 (Original Oxy 3 well pad)
Monitoring pressure

TBC 3 (Oxy 1 well pad)
Monitoring pressure

Sinkhole Site –
Monitoring status of sinkhole area

Conservation/Shaw Operations

ORW 1 Vent Well (North of Hwy 70)–
Flaring gas at 10.73 mcf/day

ORW 2 Vent Well (North of Hwy 70)
Flaring gas at 10.73 mcf/day

ORW 3 Vent Well (West of Bayou Corne) –
Remains in monitoring status, set up to vent/flare natural gas if concentrations are observed around wellbore

ORW 4 Vent Well (South of Hwy 70) –
Flaring gas at 3.9 mcf/day

Bayou Corne Community

Bayou Corne Community Aquifer Monitoring Wells (BC 1-2)

BC 1
Texas Brine reports awaiting landowner access to reach proposed site

BC 2
Installed and completed, ongoing regular monitoring of pressure

Other Actions in Near-Term on Office of Conservation Directives

In status updates to Office of Conservation, Texas Brine reports:

Field surveying for 3-D seismic to begin this week

Completed installation of ORW-12 vent well (on Texas Brine facility near TBC 1 and 2), perforating and preparing to begin flaring

Began installation of monitoring well cluster for top and bottom of aquifer at location MRAA 03 (Original Oxy 3 well pad)

Vibroseismic truck-mounted vibration generator scheduled to arrive on Jan. 17 and begin work on Jan. 18 in conjunction with surface seismic stations, Texas Brine facility geophone well and USGS monitoring stations

Order placed for indoor air monitoring equipment (LEL and H2S monitors and network components) for Bayou Corne community structures; based on signed owner agreements, initial monitors to be installed on Jan. 16

4:30 p.m. Office of Conservation Orders Accelerated Bayou Corne Stability Assessment Schedule

Office of Conservation Orders Accelerated Bayou Corne Stability Assessment Schedule
Alternative Method Could Provide Needed Data Before End of April

BATON ROUGE – Louisiana Commissioner of Conservation James Welsh today issued an amended directive to Texas Brine that- if followed promptly by the company- could cut months off the time needed to assess the impact the company’s failed cavern has had on the stability of the west side of the Napoleonville Salt Dome and the surrounding area. Under the amended directive, Texas Brine will be required to use the 3-D seismic survey process to assess the area around the sinkhole and provide the information from that process to the Office of Conservation for analysis by April 21. The information obtained will help agencies on the ground ensure the continued safety of the people in the area and help determine the problems caused by Texas Brine’s failed cavern.

The new directive replaces the portion of Conservation’s December 2012 directive requiring the drilling of two 6,000-foot geotechnical wells – one on either side of the failed cavern and sinkhole site. The primary purpose of the original geotechnical well directive was to drill wells that could house imaging equipment so experts could better assess the area and identify the extent of any potential subsurface void spaces, as well as determine the source of the crude oil and natural gas that were released by the cavern failure. The 3-D seismic survey process will achieve the same purpose, but in a quicker amount of time.

“The Office of Conservation continues to look at all ways to expedite the response to Texas Brine’s failed cavern so we can ensure the safety of the public now and in the future and return these people’s lives back to normal,” Welsh said. “Texas Brine has indicated it can meet this shorter timeline by using 3-D seismic imaging, and we hope this is a sign that the company is finally beginning to respond with the sense of urgency required in responding to this ongoing situation.”

The 3-D seismic survey method has the potential to provide information regarding stability in the area, void spaces and the possible source of the crude oil and natural gas much quicker than the pair of wells originally ordered because it does not require the drilling process.

Welsh said that the Office of Conservation and experts with contracted agent Shaw Environmental and Infrastructure had considered 3-D seismic prior to the December directive ordering the drilling of the two geotechnical wells; however, Texas Brine claimed at the time that the 3-D seismic survey method could take up to two years to produce results, due to concerns about gaining access from private landowners. The two geotechnical wells would have been ready to begin subsurface imaging in August.

Welsh said the time estimate originally given by Texas Brine for 3-D seismic spurred the Office of Conservation to seek an alternative method that allowed the needed data to be gathered safely and as efficiently as possible for the community, regardless of costs to the company. The geotechnical well plan ordered in December involved fewer private landowners, greatly reducing concerns about gaining access for the work, and had the shortest implementation time of the options available to the company at that time.

In the weeks following the December order, however, Texas Brine radically revised the estimated time needed for a 3-D seismic survey, concluding they could have the work done by April.

Welsh said Texas Brine will continue to be held accountable for the other orders contained in the December directive and further directives may be issued as needed if 3-D seismic does not provide the data required in a timely manner.

DNR Secretary Stephen Chustz commented that he is hopeful that the technique will provide the information needed to get to the bottom of the situation quickly, though he noted as he had last week that, “If Texas Brine continues to drag its feet, we continue to suggest that they consider buying out the people who want to leave.”

The amended directive also includes requirements for Texas Brine to:

* Install a permanent seismic monitoring array in the Oxy-Geismar No. 1 well to detect and locate nearby seismic events, and to monitor current and future stability in the salt dome and the caverns. The data will be made available on the existing public seismic data website.
* Drill a 1,000-foot well just west of the sinkhole for installation of seismic monitoring equipment and assessment of the makeup of subsurface formations.

10:00 a.m. Waste Management Fees

Waste Management has agreed to exempt the fee associated with garbage collection for those residents in the evacuated area that have in fact evacuated their homes. On Thursday, January 17, 2013 at the Evacuation Assistance Distribution site (St. Joseph the Worker Church Hall), please be prepared to speak with someone regarding this issue. Please bring the following items with you to verify your current evacuation situation:

  1. I.D. showing your address as a part of the evacuated area
  2. Water bill showing that there is zero water usage in your home

You will be given an affidavit that will have to be signed, notarized and returned in order to receive this exemption. Details regarding the return method of the affidavit will be provided to you on Thursday.

3:00 p.m. DNR Field Update

Office of Conservation
Bayou Corne Field Update
Jan. 10, 2013 Activities

Texas Brine Operations

Oxy 3-A Cavern Well –

  • Shut in, Vertical Seismic Profile being conducted      through next 5 days

Texas Brine Facility Vent Well to Top of Aquifer (RW 1 on Oxy 2 well pad) –

  • Flaring gas at 30.1 mcf/day

Texas Brine Facility Vent Well to Top of Cap Rock (RW 2 on Oxy 2 well pad) –

  • Shut in pending plug and abandon

Texas Brine Facility Geophone Well (Between Oxy 2 & original Oxy 3 well pads) –

Texas Brine Facility Shallow Pressure Monitoring (TBC 1-3)

TBC 1 (Original Oxy 3 well pad)

  • Monitoring pressure

TBC 2 (Original Oxy 3 well pad)

  • Monitoring pressure 

TBC 3 (Oxy 1 well pad)

  • Monitoring pressure 

Sinkhole Site –

  • Observing conditions 

Conservation/Shaw Operations 

ORW 1 Vent Well (North of Hwy 70)–

  • Flaring gas at 10.73 mcf/day 

ORW 2 Vent Well (North of Hwy 70)

  • Flaring gas at 11.93 mcf/day 

ORW 3 Vent Well (West of Bayou Corne) –

  • Remains in monitoring status, set up to vent/flare      natural gas if concentrations are observed around wellbore 

ORW 4 Vent Well (South of Hwy 70) –

  • Continuing work to clear perforations that have sanded      in in order to restore natural gas flow for flaring 

Bayou Corne Community 

Bayou Corne Community Aquifer Monitoring Wells (BC 1-2)       

BC 1

  • Texas Brine reports awaiting landowner access to reach proposed site 

BC 2

  • Installed and completed, ongoing regular monitoring of pressure 

Other Actions in Near-Term on Office of Conservation Directives 

In status updates to Office of Conservation, Texas Brine reports: 

  • Order placed for indoor air monitoring equipment (LEL and H2S monitors and network components) for Bayou Corne community structures; based on signed owner agreements, initial monitors to be installed on Jan. 16 
  • Seeking land access for installation of ORW-6 vent well near Bayou Corne community south of Hwy. 70, pre-ordering well materials 
  • Installation of ORW-12 vent well (on Texas Brine facility near TBC 1 and 2) scheduled to begin once weather permits 
  • Received access approval to improve road and build site for Geophone 02 deep geotechnical well (proposed site near well access road east of sinkhole), and received permission to being constructing well site from state Office of Coastal Management and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, mobilization to begin for site construction once weather permits
  • Vibroseismic work currently scheduled for 3rd week of January, utilizing truck-mounted vibration generator in conjunction with surface seismic stations, Texas Brine facility geophone well and USGS monitoring stations 
  • Preparing joint coastal use application on sinkhole containment design for state Office of Coastal Management and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers

4:15 p.m. Seismic Activity Explanation

Consultants with Shaw E&I and Itasca Group monitoring seismic activity in the Bayou Corne area have advised the Office of Conservation that seismic waves generated by the 7.5 magnitude earthquake that struck off the coast of Alaska early Saturday morning were detected by the Assumption Parish monitoring equipment at about 3 a.m. local time Saturday, January 5. The Office of Conservation has advised Assumption Parish officials of that detection because, though the Alaska quake was too far away to have any effect on subsurface stability in Louisiana, local officals and residents monitoring the seismic recordings should be informed that the readings for that period do not indicate a change in conditions in or near the Napoleonville Salt Dome.