Right next door to the fairways of the Wildcat Golf Club, Fairway Energy Partners is moving forward with plans announced this summer to put nearly half a billion gallons of crude oil back into the ground, right in the center of the once-wild Pierce Junction oil field just south of the Inner Loop between S. Main St. and Highway 288. (The field, which a 1956 Time Magazine article called the site of “the biggest of all Gulf Coast oil booms,” still pumps out oil.) Fairway announced in November that they’ve picked engineers to help them retrofit 3 of the 8 man-made caverns dissolved into the Pierce Junction salt dome for crude storage. A dense ring of current and closed oil wells (mapped as green dots above) traces the uppermost reach of the migrant salt, buried approximately 950 feet below the surface and extending several miles deep to its source layer.
The caverns could be ready by the end of 2016 to receive the first 10 million barrels of crude. Later phases of the project will boost storage capacity to 20 million barrels — roughly 1.5 times the volume of the Astrodome, the area’s more famous dome.
Liquid natural gas and other industrial volatiles are already stored in some of the salt dome’s cavities by Texas Brine Company; when the time is right, operators pump dense salty brine into the caverns to float the lighter liquids up and out. The retrofit will include hundred-million-gallon brine storage ponds on the surface and all the latest pipeline accessories.
- Engineering firm picked for massive Houston crude storage facility [HBJ]
- Fairway Energy Partners, LLC to Construct Houston Crude Oil Storage Facility [PR Newswire]
Map of Pierce Junction oil wells: Texas Railroad Commission