Wednesday New Mexico’s Energy, Minerals and Natural Resources Division (EMNRD) Oil Conservation Division (OCD) and WSP, an engineering firm, provided a tour of the Carlsbad Brine Well project site to a Brazilian petrochemical company and a Houston engineering firm.
Dan Kwiecinski, WSP project manager said officials from Houston-based Sabine Storage and Operations and Brazilian company Braskem wanted a firsthand look of the post-closure monitoring phase of the site where sand was injected into the brine well cavity to stabilize it and head-off potential collapse.
“Within WSP and our upper management this project has been one of the more important ones that we’ve monitored for success and really appreciate that success and it has put us on the map,” he said.
OCD Director Adrienne Sandoval said part of the department’s job was to serve and protect the public and the remediation project demonstrated a collaboration of people and groups coming together for that purpose.
A history lesson of the Carlsbad Brine Well
In June, New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham announced in Carlsbad that the remediation project had been completed, and monitoring of the site would be undertaken for another two years.
The brine well cavity, located south of Carlsbad where U.S. Highways 285 and 62/180 converge to form the South Y, formed after nearly 20 years of well activity as the result of oil drilling operations.
The remediation was meant to prevent the collapse of the cavity whose surface spanned both highways and other major commercial and agricultural infrastructure, and the estimated $1 billion in damages that would follow, according to an OCD news release.
OCD shutdown the brine well in 2008, and the State of New Mexico, Eddy County and the City of Carlsbad allocated funds to the remediation project. OCD contracted with WSP for design and implementation of the remediation plan.
Brine well issues not limited to Carlsbad or Eddy County
Braskem dealt with underground brine well cavities in Brazil said Sidney Hill, EMNRD spokesperson.
“The most notable emerged under the city Maceio on Brazil’s eastern coast following heavy rains and an earthquake in 2018. That cavity made the ground so unstable that roads and buildings started to fracture, ultimately forcing more than 25,000 residents out of their homes,” Hill said.
Kwiecinski and Sandoval said the visit allowed the entities to compare work on remediation of such cavities.
“This is a great collaboration between a lot of different groups and quite frankly it’s really exciting that our project and our success here has garnered global recognition,” Sandoval said.
Sabine Storage President Jose Pereira thanked EMNRD for its willingness to share technical information on brine well issues.