Targeting an end-of-summer reopening of the closed Aliso Canyon underground natural gas storage facility, Southern California Gas Co. officials said Tuesday they have completed the first two integrity tests for temperature and noise on 86 of the 114 storage wells.
The remaining 28 wells await testing as part of the first of a three-phase regime outlined last month by the state Division of Oil, Gas and Geothermal Resources (DOGGR) (see Daily GPI, March 29). And 39 of the first batch of wells tested as of last Friday now are in the second phase of the six-step inspection protocol.
"Any abnormal findings in this first two sets of tests are required to be addressed immediately," a DOGGR spokesperson said last month. "For example, if a temperature decrease is noted on a temperature log and further investigation reveals a leak in the external well casing, the repair of the casing must take place immediately."
A spokesperson for the Sempra Energy gas utility said the company is working toward being able to operate Aliso Canyon once again in late summer, applying the DOGGR testing regime. Ultimately DOGGR must confirm that the state's largest gas storage field may resume operations.
DOGGR first is to review the phase one test results and confirm whether each well may continue to the second phase, or taken temporarily out of service and isolated from the storage reservoir until enhanced inspections are completed. Initial testing would identify wells needing additional investigation for anomalies.
Phase two is to include a series of enhanced tests to determine if the wells are safe enough to be put back in service or scheduled for plugging and abandonment. Only those wells that have successfully completed the first two phases will be eligible to resume storage operations, according to officials.
After completion of all of the testing, DOGGR would determine if Aliso can resume operations. In the meantime, test results as they come available will be posted bi-weekly online.
Separately, SoCalGas officials said they are continuing to support third-party investigations ongoing by the California Public Utilities Commission's (CPUC) safety enforcement division and DOGGR at Aliso, along with other agencies, in the aftermath of the four-month leak in a now permanently sealed storage well (SS-25) at Aliso (see Daily GPI,Feb. 18).
Since the outset of the prolonged leak near the Porter Ranch home development to the south, no gas supplies have been injected in the 86 Bcf capacity storage facility (see Daily GPI,Nov. 12, 2015). Subsequently withdrawals from Aliso were also stopped by the CPUC to husband a base supply for use if needed this summer (see Daily GPI,April 15).
Meanwhile, a new round of class action lawsuits that seeks more than $1 billion total in personal injury and property damages has been filed in California Superior Court in Los Angeles County on behalf of 951 residents in Porter Ranch, which borders the 3,600-acre storage field.
The lawsuits by the R. Rex Parris law firm allege that state and SoCalGas officialsknew about leaking wells for years and challenge the state's failure to protect residents.
The lawsuits claim the residents suffered through the storage leak "geyser" that spewed "natural gas, noxious odors, hazardous chemicals and toxic pollutants…” where the storage facility has been operating for the past 44 years.