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Cold Weather Forces SoCalGas to Withdraw NatGas From Aliso Canyon

For a second day, Southern California Gas Co. (SoCalGas) on Wednesday again withdrew an undisclosed amount of natural gas from the shuttered Aliso Canyon storage field near Los Angeles, citing current cold weather conditions in the region. Withdrawals took place between 7-9 a.m., and more withdrawals are possible, the Sempra Energy unit said.

The withdrawals have been executed under a winter withdrawal protocol established by state regulators, SoCalGas said. Wednesday morning's “customer demand illustrates the sudden peaks we regularly experience with changes in the weather, and we work with the California Independent System Operator and our customers to manage these changes in demand on an hourly basis."

SoGalGas advisory and curtailment watch issued Monday to the largest customers remain in effect "until further notice." The weather and "its potential impact on system conditions, including any need for additional withdrawals from Aliso to maintain the reliability of gas and electric services” is being monitored, a utility spokesperson said.

"Cold weather conditions are forecast to continue to put pressure on our natural gas system." Additionally, low temperatures forecast this week east of California “could impact the availability of natural gas supply” to the region.

Last year, following a four-month storage well leak at Aliso, the state’s largest gas storage facility, California regulators ordered no new injections at the 86 Bcf capacity, 3,600-acre facility. SoCalGas was ordered to maintain 15 Bcf of supply for emergency purposes this winter.

Earlier this month, regulators proposed to "significantly limit" volumes of gas that could be stored in the now shuttered underground storage area, which is in a former producing oilfield.

Separately Tuesday, the California Division of Oil, Gas and Geothermal Resources (DOGGR), which along with the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) has been overseeing the utility’s testing and upgrading of Aliso, said two public meetings will be held next week (Feb. 1-2) about the gas storage field, which nearby residents and environmental groups want closed permanently.

DOGGR and CPUC representatives plan to outline the safety review and overall status of Aliso Canyon; oversee a public comment and small discussion group period; and hold a summary session on the results of group discussions at the public meetings.

DOGGR also released a webinar that presents safety tests and processes used on the 114 storage wells at Aliso Canyon.

Meanwhile, the Food & Water Watch (F&WW) and Save Porter Ranch community group reiterated their claims that the 45-year-old gas storage facility cannot be made safe again. "We are prepared to fight to keep the storage facility closed and ensure it is decommissioned," said F&WW’s Alexandra Nagy, a senior organizer.

F&WW on Tuesday asked the California Attorney General to investigate possible "manipulation of gas supplies" by SoCalGas to strengthen its case for eventually reopening Aliso Canyon. F&WW argues that even if it is reopened on a limited basis, the facility may be unsafe if the cause of last year's well leak is unknown.

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