Oil & Gas: Underground Bottle
August 9, 2017
To celebrate Exponent's 50th Anniversary, we created a book featuring our most notable projects from the last decade. Below is an example of our work in the Oil & Gas Industry.

Underground Bottle — Determining root causes of natural gas leaks from salt caverns helps to point the way for future improvements in storage safety.

December 24, 2003: Large volumes of natural gas escaped from two solution-mined salt caverns used for underground gas storage at the Napoleonville Salt Dome in Louisiana. The stored gas leaked through cracks in the steel casing that lined the wellbore from the surface to the underground caverns. High-pressure gas migrated to the surface, bubbling into the swamps and bayous, and presenting the danger of fires and explosions.

Nearby residences were evacuated, the local highway was closed, and the entire facility was shut down. Flow of gas to the surface required the drilling of numerous shallow vent wells to vent or capture migrating gas. The caverns had originally been created by dissolving the domal salt with fresh water, and then piping the brine (saltwater) to nearby chemical plants. When the solution mining had concluded, the caverns were converted to gas storage.

Exponent assembled a multi-disciplinary team of mechanical engineers, chemical engineers, and metallurgists to determine root causes of the major leak. The team’s final report to the Louisiana Department of Natural Resources influenced the construction of future wells and the operation of salt cavern gas storage facilities. Read more.