THE Southern California Gas Co (SoCal) has announced it has abandoned its efforts to capture or burn off the leaking methane gas from the Aliso Canyon well, US due to safety concerns.
SoCal has been attempting to stop the gas leak since October 2015, where a broken pipe has been spewing 30,000 kg/h of methane for three months.
The announcement comes after the Air Quality Management District (AQMD) reported that SoCal’s proposal to burn the leaking gas should be put on hold because there was a risk of catastrophic explosion. The AQMD said the burn plan needed approval from state and federal regulators, along with fire officials before the plan could be approved.
SoCal has also been working with engineering firms since November 2015 to design a system to capture the gas. However those plans have also been scrapped, with SoCal saying, “a design was not identified that would attain the safety level required.”
The California Public Utilities Commission (PUC) noted that the proposed designs included blowers and electric motors that could have sparked an explosion. The PUC also commented on SoCal’s burning plans, stating the well could be vulnerable to a blowout or explosion, thereby releasing more gas.
Air quality officials said that burning the gas could have removed approximately 566km3/d of natural gas from the air, reducing the amount leaked into the atmosphere by around half.
SoCal has revised estimates for stopping the leak to mid-to-late February, as it believes a relief well can be completed ahead of the March completion schedule. The company says once the relief well is complete, the damaged well can be sealed, and permanently decommissioned.
Jimmie Cho, senior vice president of gas operations at SoCal, said, “Our team has been working since we started relief well operations in early December. We are focused on stopping the leak as quickly and safely as possible and mitigating the environmental impact. Our schedule to control and stop the leak in February is consistent with the plan we have submitted to regulators.”
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