On July 13th, GRN flew another flight coordinated by Southwings over the Helis Wildcat well next to Lakeshore High School; and what we saw was disturbing. While we haven't confirmed it, it looks like Helis is mixing drilling fluids before completing the berm that would protect Cane Bayou from spills of toxic drilling mud.
Time is money in the oilfield, and when oil prices are low, corners are cut. Landowner fees are slashed, environmental regulations and safeguards are ignored. When the finance capital runs out, companies cut and run from their duties to the land. That's why it would be both predictable and distressing that a development in defiance of the Parish and the Courts is proceeding without following its own rules.
There are many complications with conducting drilling operations in a wetland, which is why GRN opposes this wildcat well. There is so much oil around, prices are rock bottom and proven reserves will have to be left in the ground--why is Helis even looking for such trouble?
Especially in this area, which is far outside the pale returns of the troubled Tuscaloosa Marine Shale, and next to Lakeshore High, we question whether there are any economic benefits to speak of. Certainly, many in the parish have concluded that this is a vanity project of a large landowner, rather than an activity that would benefit the parish, or Louisiana, much less the United States.
We also saw a road extending far into the property, a grim reminder that fracking, as an extreme drilling method, is dependent on many many well pads to reap any reward.
Along with our allies at LEAN and Subra company, GRN is digging into what whether this is a violation of the Corps' 404 permit or the LDNR drilling permit. Although our government often fails to consider the impacts when it makes these permitting decisions, we will remain. Our eyes are ever open.
Just this past month, GRN was out on Cane Bayou, witnessing the blooming of the seagrass and the abundant clams. We know what is at stake when companies fail to follow their promises.
Scott Eustis is GRN's coastal wetland specialist. Thanks to LEAN and Subra company for discussion leading to this blog.
Additional photos are displayed on GRN's flickr site.