Aliso Canyon natural gas storage facility in Los Angeles County, partial view. Companies often store natural gas underground in summer, then distribute it for winter heating. Photo: SoCal Gas
Aliso Canyon natural gas storage facility in Los Angeles County, partial view. Photo/SoCal Gas

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.

[one_half][box type=”shadow this-matters”]Methane is an especially powerful climate change gas. And residents downwind have had to leave their homes due to the smell from an additive in the gas.[/box][/one_half]

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.

Natural gas is often stored underground in salt caverns, aquifers or depleted gas or oil fields like the facility at Aliso Canyon. This graph shows how much gas is currently being stored underground in each state as of September 2015 (the most recent month available). Data source: Energy Information Administration. Credit: Jordan Wirfs-Brock, Inside Energy.

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)

CountyFieldOperatorActive Well Count
Los AngelesPlaya del ReySo Cal Gas22
Los AngelesAliso CanyonSo Cal Gas92*
Los AngelesHonor RanchoSo Cal Gas32
Santa BarbaraLa Goleta GasSo Cal Gas17
MaderaGill Ranch GasGill Ranch Storage LLC12
ButteWild Goose GasWild Goose Storage LLC17
ColusaPrinceton GasCentral Valley Gas8
Contra CostaLos Medanos GasPG&E20
San JoaquinLodi GasLodi Gas Storage9
San JoaquinLodi GasLodi Gas Storage8
San JoaquinMcDonald IslandPG&E81
SolanoKirby Hill GasLodi Gas Storage9
SolanoKirby Hills GasLodi Gas Storage9
YoloPleasant Creek GasPG&E7
Total: 343

Source: California Public Utilities Commission
* 115,  according to the state Division of Oil, Gas and Geothermal Resources

Ingrid Lobet is a reporter at inewsource specializing in the environment. To contact her with tips, suggestions or corrections, please email

One reply on “Methane spews unchecked from underground storage facility in Los Angeles County”

  1. When I consider the effects of Fracking or Disasters like Deepwater Horizon – It almost seems like the MOTIVATION of the Fossil Fuel Industry is the DESTRUCTION of Humanity for their Lord and Master – SATAN

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