Southern California Gas Co. (SoCalGas) continues to test wells at the shuttered Aliso Canyon underground natural gas storage field and hopes to be given permission to restore at least partial operations there by the end of summer, the company said.
In March, California regulators ordered SoCalGas to apply six separate tests to each of the 114 storage wells at the 86 Bcf-capacity Aliso Canyon storage field on the far northern fringe of Los Angeles (see Daily GPI, March 29). All the tests need to be completed before injections can resume at the state's largest gas storage facility, which has been closed since February following a four-month-long storage well leak (see Daily GPI, Feb. 18).
All active wells at Aliso Canyon had completed Phase 1 inspections as of July 15 and 93 wells had moved on to Phase 2 of the inspection protocol, SoCalGas said. Eighteen wells have completed all diagnostics, and 15 wells have received final approval from the state's Division of Oil, Gas and Geothermal Resources (DOGGR).
"This thorough testing is an important part of regaining people's trust and confidence that our Aliso Canyon facility is safe to operate," said SoCalGas COO Bret Lane. "We are diligently following all new state guidelines, and we aim to receive authorization to partially restore operations at the field by late summer. We realize this is important to meeting Southern California's energy needs this summer and during next winter's heating season."
Reopening the state's largest underground natural gas storage field would be a boost for California, which last week saw its second-largest underground natural gas storage field -- Pacific Gas and Electric Co.'s 81-Bcf capacity McDonald Island in San Joaquin County -- closed following the discovery of small leaks around some of its 87 gas storage wells (see Daily GPI, July 12). McDonald Island could be closed until September while the "very tiny" leakage is assessed, repaired, and all of the wells are tested and certified as safe by DOGGR.
Last month, with only nine Aliso wells completely tested, remediated and inspected -- and prior to the McDonald Island closure -- a state-mandated report concluded that an increase in withdrawal capacity could lower, if not eliminate, the risk of gas curtailments leading to rolling power outages during peak demand days this summer, if limitations could be removed at Aliso Canyon (see Daily GPI, June 30). A minimum of 36 wells at Aliso Canyon would be required to provide enough withdrawal capacity to avoid shortages of gas and power, according to the California Public Utilities Commission analysis.