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California Regulators Set Aliso Canyon Injection Well Review Criteria

The California Department of Conservation (DOC) on Wednesday released the review criteria to be applied before any injection can resume into Southern California Gas Co.'s (SoCalGas) Aliso Canyon natural gas storage facility, the site of a recently plugged nearly four-month-long storage well leak, which was permanently sealed on Thursday (see related story).

Injections have been discontinued after the leaking storage well was discovered last October.

The criteria were developed in consultation with technical experts from the Lawrence Berkeley, Lawrence Livermore, and Sandia national laboratories, according to DOC.

"We want to assure the residents of the surrounding communities that we are taking a prudent, scientific approach to allowing the resumption of injection into the storage facility,” said DOC Chief Deputy Director Jason Marshall.

Marshall said that separately, DOC's oil/gas regulatory unit, the Division of Oil, Gas and Geothermal Resources (DOGGR), is preparing to undertake a rulemaking to revise the regulations governing the division’s gas storage program.

DOGGR outlines immediate regulatory goals and solicits public input on how best to accomplish these goals. DOGGR will accept comments until March 18.

Those criteria say that to resume injections, each well must be confirmed in writing by the state oil/gas supervisor that "it has passed a full battery of tests for safety or it has been taken out of service and isolated from the operations of the underground storage facility." There is a seven-step process for testing each of the wells.

"All injection activity into the Aliso Canyon facility remains suspended until a comprehensive review, utilizing independent experts of the safety of the storage wells is completed."

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