A giant leak at a natural gas storage facility in the Los Angeles area is reversing many of the efforts of California industry, businesses and schools to comply with increasingly stringent emissions rules.
Very large quantities of the potent climate changing gas methane are escaping from a well that is part of an extensive underground gas storage site serving Southern California. More than 300 people have had to leave their homes.
Southern California Gas Co., a subsidiary of San Diego-based Sempra Energy, has 115 gas storage wells at the Aliso Canyon site, near Porter Ranch. It stores gas in the summer and distributes it in the winter out of a sandstone formation that was tapped for oil a century ago.
Dennis Arriola, president and CEO of Southern California Gas, said it will take at least three months to stop the releases, which began more than a month ago.
The gas, under pressure, is gushing at such a rate – more than 44,000 kilograms per hour – that the California Air Resources Board estimated it is increasing the entire state’s methane emissions by 25 percent.
Company officials said the gas flow stems from a damaged 7-inch diameter well casing.
Authorities ranging from the San Diego County Air Pollution Control District to the United Nations are focused on reducing methane because its ability to alter climate during its brief 20-year sojourn in the atmosphere is roughly 70 times stronger than carbon dioxide. The principal sources of methane are agriculture, landfills and the oil and gas industry.
Gas storage projects in California (December 4, 2015)
|County||Field||Operator||Active Well Count|
|Los Angeles||Playa del Rey||So Cal Gas||22|
|Los Angeles||Aliso Canyon||So Cal Gas||92*|
|Los Angeles||Honor Rancho||So Cal Gas||32|
|Santa Barbara||La Goleta Gas||So Cal Gas||17|
|Madera||Gill Ranch Gas||Gill Ranch Storage LLC||12|
|Butte||Wild Goose Gas||Wild Goose Storage LLC||17|
|Colusa||Princeton Gas||Central Valley Gas||8|
|Contra Costa||Los Medanos Gas||PG&E||20|
|San Joaquin||Lodi Gas||Lodi Gas Storage||9|
|San Joaquin||Lodi Gas||Lodi Gas Storage||8|
|San Joaquin||McDonald Island||PG&E||81|
|Solano||Kirby Hill Gas||Lodi Gas Storage||9|
|Solano||Kirby Hills Gas||Lodi Gas Storage||9|
|Yolo||Pleasant Creek Gas||PG&E||7|
Source: California Public Utilities Commission
* 115, according to the state Division of Oil, Gas and Geothermal Resources
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