Brinewell blast: the mystery continues

Keith Budinger, new boss of Halite
Keith Budinger, new boss of Halite

THE company behind plans for a multi-million pound gas store scheme under the Wyre estuary has revealed details of its technical report into the geyser-like eruption which sent tonnes of salty mud onto a field and country lane this summer.

Halite Energy, which says it has evidence saboteurs were behind the incident, has released its technical report into the brinewell blast, believed by other observers to be the result of geological instability in the area, which is littered with disused brinewells.

Halite has issued its statement after the police said last week there was “no verifiable evidence” either way following their probe.

This week Halite’s chief executive Keith Budinger said the company was grateful for the police’s efforts, adding: “It is not possible to share further details of the evidence publicly as, should further information come to light, the police investigations will be re-opened.”

Giving the company’s thoughts on the incident Mr Budinger said its investigation had “established that a short section of borehole casing was distorted and ruptured in an airlock in the brine well 190 metres below ground.

“This caused air and brine to rise up under pressure to the wellhead. However the wellhead flange was able to withstand this increase in pressure.

“Highly pressurised brine and air travelled back down the gap between the inner and outer casings and then back to the ground surface around the outside of the outer casings. It is likely that this happened at approximately 24m below the surface.”

He said Halite has already taken measures to strengthen security, monitoring and maintenance around all the historic brine wells and was completing a full risk assessment of every well.

The company has also stepped up on site security. A 24-hour ranger patrol has been introduced to monitor the land in Halite’s ownership, paying particular attention to areas with wellheads from historic workings.

The results of CCTV and geophysical surveys undertaken following the incident have been compared to the high quality sonar survey results of the brine well gathered in June, 2010.

Halite said: “This work has demonstrated that the cavern is stable and the cavern floor and roof remain intact, removing any possibility that cavern instability caused the incident and also removing any concerns around any future cavern collapse or ground subsidence in the adjacent area.”

A full report is being assembled by Halite’s geology consultants and will be published on September 30.

As summary of the report is available from Halite’s website at www.halite-energy.co.uk

l Halite is taking legal advice over ways of removing a trespasser from its land at Stalmine. The man is understood to have a horse and caravan and has been on the land since September 11. A spokeswoman said: “Halite has sought legal advice and begun the process of arranging civil legal proceedings to move him on.”

The county council’s enforcement officer has made contact with the trespasser.