SoCalGas Expects to Stop Aliso Canyon Leak by Late February, Possibly Sooner
- Latest CARB Preliminary Estimates Show More Than 60 Percent Reduction in Emissions from November Peak; GHG Emissions Estimated at Less Than 1 Percent of Annual California Total
- AQMD Reports Benzene Levels at Same Levels in Local Community as in Other Parts of Los Angeles Basin
LOS ANGELES, Jan. 18, 2016 /PRNewswire/ -- Southern California Gas Co. (SoCalGas) today announced that its relief well project to stop the Aliso Canyon natural gas leak is proceeding ahead of schedule and the company expects to stop the leak by late February, if not sooner.
The relief well drilling began Dec. 4, 2015, and is expected to reach the bottom of the well at a depth of about 8,500 feet below the surface next month. Once the well is sealed, it will be taken out of service permanently.
"Our team of experts has been working around the clock since we started relief well operations in early December and we're pleased with the progress we've made thus far," said Jimmie Cho, senior vice president of gas operations and system integrity for SoCalGas. "Our top priority remains the safety of those working on the site and of the nearby community. We are focused on stopping the leak as quickly and safely as possible, mitigating the environmental impact, and supporting the community. Our schedule to control and stop the leak in February is consistent with the plan we have submitted to state regulators."
The most recent Aliso Canyon preliminary emissions estimates by the California Air Resources Board (CARB) were posted Jan. 12, showing estimated emissions have decreased more than 60 percent since CARB's peak estimates on Nov. 28, according to the latest CARB monitoring data. The estimated cumulative emissions released as a result of the leak are less than 1 percent of the state's annual total.
CARB releases rough estimates of the volume of gas leaking from the well based on data collected during periodic flights using monitors to measure methane. The flyover data provide an estimated emission rate at the time the flights are conducted, and are used to develop a rough estimate of the total methane leaked to date. As CARB also acknowledges, a more refined estimate of the actual emissions will be conducted once the leak is stopped and additional data is collected and reviewed.
SoCalGas has said it intends to mitigate the environmental impact of the actual amount of natural gas released from the leak.
In other developments:
- The South Coast Air Quality Management District (AQMD) released a preliminary assessment Friday that the level of benzene risk levels in the Porter Ranch community, based on 24-hour samples, approximated levels consistent with other parts of the Los Angeles basin.
- SoCalGas said today that after extensive design and study, and in consultation with the AQMD and other state agencies, it has decided not to install a gas capture system at the leaking well because of safety concerns expressed by its engineers. Design of a gas capture system began in November 2015, with the company's engineers and consultants studying various ways to build and install a gas capture system. However, a design was not identified that would attain the safety level that SoCalGas believes is required.
About Southern California Gas Co.
Southern California Gas Co. has been delivering clean, safe and reliable natural gas to its customers for more than 140 years. It is the nation's largest natural gas distribution utility, providing service to 21.4 million consumers connected through 5.9 million meters in more than 500 communities. The company's service territory encompasses approximately 20,000 square miles throughout central and Southern California, from Visalia to the Mexican border. Southern California Gas Co. is a regulated subsidiary of Sempra Energy (NYSE: SRE), a Fortune 500 energy services holding company based in San Diego.
This press release contains statements that are not historical fact and constitute forward-looking statements within the meaning of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. These statements can be identified by words like "believes," "expects," "anticipates," "plans," "estimates," "projects," "forecasts," "contemplates," "intends," "depends," "should," "could," "would," "will," "confident," "may," "potential," "possible," "proposed," "target," "pursue," "goals," "outlook," "maintain" or similar expressions, or discussions of guidance, strategies, plans, goals, opportunities, projections, initiatives, objectives or intentions. Forward-looking statements are not guarantees of performance. They involve risks, uncertainties and assumptions. Future results may differ materially from those expressed in the forward-looking statements. Forward-looking statements are necessarily based upon various assumptions involving judgments with respect to the future and other risks, including, among others: local, regional, national and international economic, competitive, political, legislative and regulatory conditions and developments; actions and the timing of actions, including issuances of permits to construct and licenses for operation, by the California Public Utilities Commission, California State Legislature, U.S. Department of Energy, Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, California Energy Commission, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, California Air Resources Board, and other regulatory, governmental and environmental bodies in the United States; the timing and success of business development efforts and construction, maintenance and capital projects, including risks in obtaining, maintaining or extending permits, licenses, certificates and other authorizations on a timely basis and risks in obtaining adequate and competitive financing for such projects; energy markets, including the timing and extent of changes and volatility in commodity prices, and the impact of any protracted reduction in oil and natural gas prices from historical averages; the impact on the value of our natural gas storage assets from low natural gas prices, low volatility of natural gas prices and the inability to procure favorable long-term contracts for natural gas storage services; delays in the timing of costs incurred and the timing of the regulatory agency authorization to recover such costs in rates from customers; deviations from regulatory precedent or practice that result in a reallocation of benefits or burdens among shareholders and ratepayers; capital markets conditions, including the availability of credit and the liquidity of our investments; inflation and interest rates; the availability of electric power and natural gas, and natural gas pipeline and storage capacity, including disruptions caused by failures in the North American transmission grid, pipeline explosions and equipment failures; cybersecurity threats to the energy grid, natural gas storage and pipeline infrastructure, the information and systems used to operate our businesses and the confidentiality of our proprietary information and the personal information of our customers, terrorist attacks that threaten system operations and critical infrastructure, and wars; weather conditions, conservation efforts, natural disasters, catastrophic accidents, and other events that may disrupt our operations, damage our facilities and systems, and subject us to third-party liability for property damage or personal injuries some of which may or may not be covered by insurance; risks that our partners or counterparties will be unable or unwilling to fulfill their contractual commitments; business, regulatory, environmental and legal decisions and requirements; the inability or determination not to enter into long-term supply and sales agreements or long-term firm capacity agreements due to insufficient market interest, unattractive pricing or other factors; the resolution of litigation; and other uncertainties, all of which are difficult to predict and many of which are beyond our control. These risks and uncertainties are further discussed in the reports that the company has filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission. These reports are available through the EDGAR system free-of-charge on the SEC's website, www.sec.gov. Investors should not rely unduly on any forward-looking statements. These forward-looking statements speak only as of the date hereof, and the company undertakes no obligation to update or revise these forecasts or projections or other forward-looking statements, whether as a result of new information, future events or otherwise.
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SOURCE Southern California Gas Co.