Video: Experts said there’s an extreme amount of gas in aquifer near giant sinkhole — Another hole can open up if there’s a weak spot according to officials

Published: January 17th, 2013 at 2:09 pm ET


Title: The Hole Problem: An Interview with John Achee Jr.
Source: 28Stones
Date Recorded: Nov. 2012
Date Published: Jan. 6, 2013

At 3:15 in

Question: What is your biggest concern for the community at this moment?

Community advocate John Achee Jr.: A lot of experts have told me there’s an extreme amount of natural gas in the Mississippi Alluvial Aquifer.

DNR themselves have said that it’s possible for another sinkhole to happen if the natural gas in the aquifer finds another weak spot, another sinkhole can happen.

So how do we fix that? We drill vent wells and vent the aquifer. The problem with that right now seems to be, and I say this hesitantly, but it seems to be money over public safety.

Published: January 17th, 2013 at 2:09 pm ET


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30 comments to Video: Experts said there’s an extreme amount of gas in aquifer near giant sinkhole — Another hole can open up if there’s a weak spot according to officials

  • markww markww

    This is the Mississippi Alluvial Aquifer



    "but it seems to be money over public safety." Duh! Ya think?

  • PavewayIII PavewayIII

    Voids and additional sinkholes are a different problem than migration of formation oil and gas upwards, eventually reaching the layers in the surface aquifer.

    Texas Brine and the DNR want everyone to keep referring to this as 'the sinkhole' because that seems like the problem that needs solving. After dragging this on for a few more months, they're going to do exactly that by the cheapest, easiest method possible: dumping as much fill into the sinkhole as possible so it looks like the problem is solved and the salt dome is stable.

    This will not 'fix' the few thousand feet of uplifted shale and salt that previously held back the layers of miocene gas-bearing formations and oil traps. That collapsed into TB's cavern. That seriously screwed up any hope of keeping the oil and gas confined to the individual sand layers where its been for tens of thousands of years.

    There is gas and oil migrating upwards that has spread out to some degree under any kind of confining layer. Those confining layers – clay or whatever – balloon up under pressure until the gas and oil find enough cracks to move up to the next confining layer.

    Whatever is happening at 90' is also happening at several other layers above and below 400' all the way to 4500'. Venting the huge bubbles under the clay layer at 90' is a temporary and incomplete fix. There are huge pockets at every layer down to 4500' or so. It will never stop migrating upwards and threatening residents.

    • 16Penny 16Penny

      Paveway, you hit on something that has been in my mind since I viewed the 2D seismic survey of the dome, I think from 2010.

      "This will not 'fix' the few thousand feet of uplifted shale and salt that previously held back the layers of miocene gas-bearing formations and oil traps."

      Great point. The zone where the salt cavern has failed allowed the edges of the neighboring soil layers to collapse. These need to be sealed before any filling or controlled collapse is attempted, in my opinion. Just trying to fill the hole will most likely not do that. The effort to seal it will also be complicated by the mess of debris that has already fallen in uncontrolled. I am suspicious that the mixture of soil partially filling the cavern is too conductive to just leave as is and hope one day it quits bubbling and oozing hydrocarbons through the layers you mentioned above.

      • PavewayIII PavewayIII

        Which is a particularly good reason to let the geologists do a proper seismic survey at depth to see some detail about the side of the salt dome and condition/extent of collapsed shale.

        This is also a particularly good reason to prohibit Texas Brine from dictating to the spineless DNR that their thumper-truck ghetto seismic snapshot is adequate.

        Texas Brine has no business dictating *anything* regarding the salt dome. They SUCK at salt dome geology. If I ran the LA DNR mafia, I would whack the Texas Brine idiots back with treble damages: drill SIX 6000' wells instead of two and shut the $%ll up in the future about what 'you feel' is adequate. We don't CARE!

        Thumper-trucks are only adequate for Bayer's accountants and Texas Brine's lawyers. A fuzzy picture is ONLY good for hiding inconvenient detail – like the permanent damage they have caused to the side of the salt dome.

        • FREEDOMROX

          There is a way to stop all of this, and it's being worked on. You may not like the solution, but it will stop all of this, and there isn't a real need for the VSP 3D, except to pinpoint certain factors. I will publish all of my findings soon, but none but only one can be implemented until drier conditions prevail.

          Six wells would be the height of stupidity or even two that are 6000 ft. down in such a volitile environment before a VSP can determine if that is safe or even viable.

          I understand your point and your passion, Paveway, but now is not the time for recklessness. This is in no way a reflection upon you or your opinions, or character, sir. We all should be free to express all of our opinions.

          • PavewayIII PavewayIII

            "…Six wells would be the height of stupidity or even two that are 6000 ft. down in such a volitile environment before a VSP can determine if that is safe or even viable…."

            I'm not sure how you figure that petroleum engineers and geologists are incapable of determining where or how to drill a couple of 6000' wells. They do this for a living – do you?

            You have every right to question what they're doing and suggest something you think is better. Until now, the only argument I've seen you make is are related to instability and volatility. They surely know this better than any of us – that's why they were hired.

            They didn't plan on drilling into the center of the sinkhole or anywhere inside (or probably even near it) because it would interfere with seismic results. Besides, no driller is going to take the job if the pad is on unstable ground.

            Louisiana already tapped taxpayers for a quarter million to hire good engineers to clean up Texas Brine's mess. I'm suggesting they do that because they're the best qualified.

            You're warning that their actions would be reckless without giving much of a reason why. You're also saying Texas Brine's approach is the best or safest for now despite their dismal track record for anything resembling either 'good' or 'safe'.

            Sorry, but it's not clear to me why Shaw is wrong and Texas Brine knows best here. Just looking for a more convincing argument from you. You may be right.

            • FREEDOMROX

              Hi Paveway. Not a problem, and I take no offense. It is the very reason that I am listening to the engineers, that I stated the above. The two 6000 ft. boreholes were to be used for a VSP. That's all the tools they have.

              "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."
              "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"

              This straight from Shaw and the 'experts'.

              Also a SONAR sounding from the Inside of the well could also show any of the deformations and where. This has already been done with the first five days of the VSP, (Vertical Seismic Profile)

              I believe I stand upon firm ground in my conclusions and even my convictions.

              Want to know just how good SONAR was in situ?

              • FREEDOMROX

                Addendum: The two 6000 ft. boreholes would have used similar equipment, except it would have been a horizontal profile.

                No better and no worse.

                As I have stated, there is a way to stop all of the bubbling and the sinkhole burps and is being proposed shortly. I just have to find a geologist that will take it to Shaw, for they surely will not listen to me.

                • Anthony Anthony

                  The Active Activist you are!

                  • FREEDOMROX

                    I wished. I had to learn all of this from the ground (pun intended) up. If I was truly a active, I would have seen this two months ago, and screamed it from the rooftops. I am hashing it out with Thad, and seems it stands on solid footing as well, but being schooled every single day.

                    • Anthony Anthony

                      Things come in their right time. Its really good to give a care when things matter and you can make a difference. And yes the environment here I am convinced has a heaviness I think can get to each and every one of us. Whether we are polar opposites or peas in a pod, we all share in common some kind of caring for the future. If half of our back-and-forths turn out to be half right, you have to admit we get the gamut here given the morbid connection we share watching and talking out our possible human undoing. I think it has a Gilbert Grape seriousness aspect which is sort of what everything can become seen through. Its a dark filter to view life through. I was thinking earlier how a year ago I * spontaneously* dropped out of the blog for awhile. I got busy working etc and really stopped being here for awhile. It really was a different reality that I could see was the one everyone else, not in the know, were having. It was fun and carefree, all the while Fuku was steaming away in the background all the same. So I can deal with it overloaded, depressed, pissed off and convinced OR I can get back to enjoying the fun of life.

                      I guess we pick our own poison. For now.

              • PavewayIII PavewayIII

                Texas Brine complained the first time Shaw asked for a detailed 3D survey. They said it would take two years because of some goofball excuse about getting permission from landowners. Then they did nothing.

                So Shaw said fine, drill a couple of 6000' wells on either side of the sinkhole and we can get some of the detailed imaging we need by the end of 2013 – a year earlier than you can.

                Texas Brine promptly files and injunction saying the DNR doesn't have the right to force them to drill the wells or demand any action by Texas Brine. At the same time, Texas Brine announces that NOW they can get a 3D shot and drawn in four months – by the end of April. So another month and a half was wasted by Texas Brine and the Shaw engineers time was wasted devising an alternative.

                Now all I need is an explanation by Welsh why Shaw was paid a quarter-million but their engineers couldn't pick up a phone and find out how long a 3D shot would REALLY take if that's what they needed. If it only took a few months, then why didn't they start it in November and bill Texas Brine?

                The sonar profile has nothing to do with seismic, by the way. They already ran a sonar caliper in November. They didn't run one recently – the well is shut in for now. I'm not sure why you're associating this with vertical seismic profiling. There's no detector string in the well to record seismic, is there?

                • FREEDOMROX

                  Well, I thought you would not stay on the attack, Paveway, because you stated if I responded satisfactorily, that:

                  "Just looking for a more convincing argument from you. You may be right."

                  Evidently no matter what I state, then this will not happen.

                  I will try once more, and this is it, as I have other things occupying my time. This is out of respect only.

                  From the same page, updates were as follows:

                  Oxy 3-A Cavern Well –

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

                  Posted on January 7th:
                  "It has been reported to us that the vertical seismic profile work will be performed at night from 6:00 p.m. to 6:00 a.m. each night, starting tomorrow. The thumper truck should not effect any of the surroundings."

                  On 1/10/2013 The BC Updates show for Oxy 3A:
                  "Vertical Seismic Profile will be logged over the next 5 days. Shut in", and "Runnibg VSP. Shut in."


                  Now to muddy the waters a little more, on The 10th; it is also stated:

                  "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"

                  Since the whole of the VSP is supposed to take 120 hours which equals 10 days. It only makes sense they would perform as BH's did in 2010 and downhole.

                  • FREEDOMROX

                    Also, there is very little difference in Vibroseis. Reflection seismology is similar to sonar and echolocation.

                    Only in it's application is there any difference at all.

                    I thought you had studied the 2010 VSp and understood all of this. Sorry for any mis-communication.

                    • 16Penny 16Penny

                      I tried to follow that link you provided to the VSP above and had some trouble with the site. Then I couldn't get their tutorial to work. Is it the same as this diagram?


                      Second one down.

                    • FREEDOMROX

                      @16 Penny. LDNR makes it very hard to obtain pdf's, because you have to deal with a blank popup window that triggers the download. It could be your popup blocker, or settings.

                      Although that proprietary 3D survey you linked to from Golden Gate would and still could help in this situation, it is not the one I spoke of. The SONAR is from inside the cavern and had been shot several times over the years. This indicates there were already problems as alluded to in a Geology paper back in 1998, where parts of the shale sheath had intruded the lower part of the cavern.
                      The SONAR showed that the bottom 1000 ft. or so was of a straight line no deformation on the NW side of the cavern indicating it was pressing against the shale sheath.
                      To find out to download these survey's, go to:


                      Hit, "Permitting" then scroll down to the bottom and you will see, "Well Permit to Drill/Amend Historic, then click "Next"
                      When it comes back up, look to the righ and enter 180708 in the Well Serial Nummber box, and make sure to tick the "Get Assocoated Documents" box as well.
                      A popup will come up, and you get all the information on Hooker 3, Vulcan 3, and Oxy 3 since 1982.
                      Please take note, of when the documents were submitted and when LDNR published them…many only in August of 2012.
                      The 2007 SONAR and the 2010 VSP are the documents I speak of.

                      Whew! See how easy it is?

                  • FREEDOMROX

                    Paveway, sorry I forgot to mention they did drill a 1000 ft. deep geo well, so I really don't think they will risk the OXY 3A well, since they are supposedly capturing and venting H2S from it.
                    Whatever happened to that story? I don't know. Hasn't been mentioned once in the DNR daily updates since they install the equipment to flare it off, (which I thought was illegal).

                • Thad

                  There as some in the area being 'difficult' about right-a-way and easements–
                  Sonar caliber survey is lateral amd limited to the depth the tool can be lowered to in OXY #3A. That is now limited by the amount of fill in the cavern if that point is above the breached or damaged area the data from a SCS would show nothing new. as the tool signal impulse is none penetrating it could show any thing outside the first point of reflection.

                  • PavewayIII PavewayIII

                    That's what I understand, Thad. You usually get one by lowering a sonode through the casing an into the cavern on a wireline. You only need access to the wellhead.

                    It's the document on Row 12 in this list:


                    And I agree, it's not of much use in this case. All you see is the top few hundred feet of the cavern. It does show the ceiling intact, so that's good.

                    TB was referring to the surface-based 3D seismic study of the whole area. That requires a several-hundred square meter grid of receivers at the surface and a thumper truck or two. That will supposedly provide a detailed picture of the dome's West flank and the cave-in area. They're usually used for stratigraphy – horizontal layers – not true 3D imaging of vertical underground structures. I'm skeptical. I would have preferred Itaska's horizontal tomography despite the two 6000' holes required. Tomography is ideally suited to the task here.


        @16 Penny. They can't seal it in. Impossible. But there is still a way to stop it all.

        • 16Penny 16Penny

          Sharks with lasers? Sarcasm aside you have peaked my interest into your solution. I can not wait until you disclose your plan.

          As far as can't stop it, not so sure but atm I don't have any ideas on how. Possibly a big can of that expanding window sealant , in-situ vitrification of the rock face were it meets the failed cavern. Ok, so those are not likely but while I wait for disclosure, I will mull it over. I am glad to hear you and Thad are getting along, at least working together.

          Good luck on your submission!

  • irhologram

    "There are huge pockets at every layer down to 4500' or so. It will never stop migrating upwards…"

    Wow. Now that's some commercial incentive. Never? And then there's also the possibility it's migrating sideways across the cracks in the ocean floor bridging the continental shelf, abutting the Coastal Aquafer, which abutts the Mississippi Alluvial Aquafer. The contents of each does traverse other aquafers.

    Meanwhile the larger the release, the greater the collpse. Plus, wouldn't this flaring and venting be much like the hole in the dike that would have taken out the whole town…but in this case, instead of the little Dutch Boy plugging the dike with his thumb so the earth wouldn't disintegrate as pressure increased the size of the hole…in this case, we're drilling more holes so pressure can increase them, and release volume. Of course once the breach ocurred (some say BP, some say intentionally), what choice is there but to let the pressure out of the balloon deflating it to our next series of catastrophic devataions. This man in the video doesn't get that once vented, the area becomes completely geographically instable? Asked and answered RE Risk assessment corporate greed scale…Navy Map explained.

  • PavewayIII PavewayIII

    frox: not asking you to explain Shaw – that was just a rant.

    I am still skeptical that Texas Brine can be trusted to pay for or deliver what amounts to evidence of their own screw-up. It's not an attack on you and you don't need to respond. It's my opinion based on what seems to be happening going by the inspection reports:

    29-Dec Inspector Report: Oxy-Geismer #3-A Well shut-in, No tubing in well, Csg pressure 663 psi

    30-Dec AM S/I 24hrs. [casing pressure entered as 657 psig]
    30-Dec PM No Remarks [casing pressure entered as 656 psig]

    31-Dec AM No Remarks [casing pressure entered as 649 psig]
    31-Dec PM No Remarks [casing pressure entered as 648 psig]

    1-Jan AM No Remarks [casing pressure entered as 642 psig]
    1-Jan PM No Remarks [casing pressure entered as 641 psig]

    2-Jan AM No Remarks [casing pressure entered as 636 psig]
    2-Jan PM No Remarks [casing pressure entered as 635 psig]

    3-Jan AM No Remarks [casing pressure entered as 632 psig]
    3-Jan PM No Remarks [casing pressure entered as 631 psig]

    4-Jan AM Shut in [casing pressure entered as 626 psig]
    4-Jan PM No Remarks [casing pressure entered as 625 psig]

    5-Jan AM Shut in [casing pressure entered as 621 psig]
    5-Jan PM No Remarks [casing pressure entered as 620 psig]

    6-Jan AM Shut in
    6-Jan PM No Remarks

    7-Jan AM No measurements taked as Texas Brine prepping for VSP work to begin (which is planned on starting tomorrow evening…plan on taking approx. 120 hours to…

  • PavewayIII PavewayIII

    and then:

    8-Jan AM Setting up survey equipment. Stuck in hole at 8:45
    8-Jan PM Still stuck in hole at 2668'

    9-Jan AM Vertical Seismic Profile will be logged over the next 5 days. Shut in Snubbing unit on top of well.
    9-Jan Baker Hughes Vibrator truck on location vibrating

    10-Jan AM Vertical Seismic Profile will be logged over the next 5 days. Shut in
    10-Jan PM Runnibg VSP. Shut in.

    11-Jan AM Running VSP geophones in well. @1400' [casing pressure entered as 620 psig]
    11-Jan PM Running VSP @1256' [casing pressure entered as 635 psig]

    12-Jan AM Running VSP geophones in well. @1400'
    12-Jan PM No Remarks – AM remark about VSP deleted

    13-Jan AM Shut in.
    13-Jan PM Shut-in.

    14-Jan AM No Remarks
    14-Jan PM No Tubing [casing pressure entered as 614 psig]

    15-Jan AM No Remarks [casing pressure entered as 612 psig]
    15-Jan PM No Tubing [casing pressure entered as 612 psig, gas flow rate entry of 0]

    16-Jan AM No Remarks [Tubing pressure entry:15.2 psig, gas flow rate entry: 6.9mcfd]
    16-Jan PM No Remarks [Tubing pressure entry:15.1 psig, casing pressure entry 610 psig, gas flow rate entry: 6.9mcfd] [AM casing pressure now entered as 610 psig]

    17-Jan AM Workover rig on well. [casing pressure entry of 15.2 psig]
    17-Jan PM Tubing was pulled out of well per Fesco rig hand. [casing pressure entry of 10.49 psig]

  • Thad

    If the VSP can locate the breach through the outer oil/gas formations and it should there is a possible way to seal it off.
    Set rig at a safe distance drl down vertical then horizintal to a point below breach. If need be two lateral bore could be also drld off the primary horizontal- one each side – thus penetrating producing zones in three places. Then cement squeeze the formation tops below breach.
    Not new technology- it is done offshore all the time. A similar method was used to intercept the wellbore of BP MC-252 and kill it from the bottom.
    After cement sets pull back set plug and drl horizontalagain dropping angle and penetrate production zones below cemented section and then produce well. This would drop formation pressure and in time deplete.

    • PavewayIII PavewayIII

      Down-hole VSPs require the receiver to be directly in contact with the borehole wall or an anchored casing. That's only going to be above the point 3400' deep for Oxy 3/3A.

      Worse yet, you're not even listening directly to the energy source on the top of the salt. The salt flank and breach is behind and below the receiver. They can do some numerical wizardry with reflected waves, but I'm not sure what good it would do.

      I don't know what another VSP could tell Texas Brine except "Gosh… you're really, really close to the dome wall. Maybe you shouldn't try to dissolve out a 600' in diameter storage cavern." But then, they already know that…

      Maybe they're trying to get something else from the VSP. I'm not saying they shouldn't have done it *at all*. That comment was within the larger context of Texas Brine opposing the Shaw/Itaska approach for what appears to be a faster, cheaper, less precise picture of what's happening down there.

      Anything they do to stabilize or fix the problem is going to be risky. There's a good chance of inadvertently making the problem worse. The geologists have to provide some kind of best-guess answer at some point so they want *quality* data. Not faster, cheaper, less precise data.

      It's just an odd time for the perpetrators to pinch pennies, or the DNR to suddenly lose it's spine.

      • Thad

        DNR and TxBrn know enough to drl horizontal, cement and kill.
        They know which side of the dome the breach is on, that is some where between the bottom of the cavern and the top. The producing lay in an upward angle outside the dome and the section at the same level as the cavern bootom would be intact and undamaged. That would be the target horizontal across the producing formations slightly below the cavern bottom.
        This was known from the first—but everything has been clean up the mess and CYA– not to stop or even prevent the mess from growing—

        • PavewayIII PavewayIII

          I'm not terribly inclined to believe that multiple layers of oil-bearing sands sandwiched between thin layers of shale and clay can be cemented enough to 'kill' those formations. Maybe they can.

          The only thing they knew after they reached the cavern and got a sample is that the oil did not originate from the Big Hum sands. That leaves a couple of dozen deeper potential hydrocarbon-bearing formations down to the geopressure zone that were distorted and pierced by the dome. I suppose an acre or two of heavy cement might be a good start. Depleted uranium filler is great for density – drillers love using it in sinkers.

          No argument about motives. CYA and cosmetics is by-the-book: Macondo, Fukushima, etc.