State may know exact size of northern Brine Well cavity

Mike Smith
Carlsbad Current-Argus

Sonar surveys gave the New Mexico Energy, Minerals and Natural Resources Department (ENMRD) plenty of information on the size of a cavity in the northern portion of the Carlsbad Brine Well.

“The sonar effort to date has significantly helped in determining the volume and shape of the void which gives us crucial information as we continue to backfill the cavity,” said the Bureau Chief of the New Mexico Oil Conservation Division Chief Jim Griswold.

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The surveys are complete and data should be released soon that could give crews and government officials a better idea of the size of the cavity, read an ENMRD news release.

“There are no new concerns regarding the void encountered in the northern portion of the site,” Griswold said.

Jim Griswold with New Mexico's Oil Conservation Division attends a meeting with Carlsbad leaders, Feb. 3, 2020 in Santa Fe.

Information gathered while drilling and through sonar readings in the northern portion of the former I&W Brine Well site south of Carlsbad was larger than previously understood, the release read.

“Backfilling of the void has been proceeding at a reasonable pace and the contractors have lately been able to increase the rate at which sand is being introduced,” Griswold said.

“We are constantly trying to find better, safer and quicker ways to complete the project.”

More:State continues study on northern cavity of Carlsbad Brine Well

Well drilling and sand backfilling continues in the northern portion of the site adjacent to United States highway 285, per the release.

 The site located at the South Y, where U.S. highways 285 and 62/180 converge.

A diagram shows the shape and location of the cavity that could collapse at the former I&W Brine Well site.

The southern part of the site has been stabilized successfully through the injected grout process due to the southern cavity not being as extensive as expected, the release read.

“We do not feel at this time that additional grout injection will be necessary in the southernmost portions of the site, but the injection wells are still functional if needed,” Griswold said.

Carlsbad Mayor Dale Janway welcomed the news of the stabilization in the southern part of the Brine Well site.

“The process seems to be moving along well, and we’re especially glad to hear the news about the stabilization of the southern portion of the site. We have high hopes that the process will continue to move forward quickly," Janway said.

Twelve of the 16 anticipated grouting and sand injection wells are complete and work continues.

More:Sand replaced grout in effort to stabilize Carlsbad Brine Well

Grouting is complete in four wells in the southern portion of the site and sand backfilling is ongoing in three wells in the north, according to the release.

More than 130 days of site work have been completed without lost injury time, the release read.

Griswold said work at the site should continue for the next eight months.

“At the rate of injection we are currently achieving, it will likely require continuous injection into September of this year,” Griswold said.

Crews prepare to drill grouting wells last year at the former I&W Brine Well site south of Carlsbad.

Mike Smith can be reached at 575-628-5546 or by email at or @ArgusMichae on Twitter.