Friday, January 08, 2016

Methane Leak In Aliso Canyon California

An enormous amount of  methane gas is currently erupting from an energy facility in Aliso Canyon, California, at a rate of 110,000 pounds per hour. The gas has led to the evacuation 1,700 homes so far. Many residents have already filed lawsuits against the company that owns the facility, the Southern California Gas Company.
Footage taken on December 17 shows a geyser of methane gas spewing from the Earth, visible by a specialized infrared camera operated by an Earthworks ITC-certified thermographer. The Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) released the footage last week.
In early December, the Southern California Gas Company (SCGC) said that plugging the leak, which sprang in mid-October, would take at least three more months. Right now, the single leak accounts for a quarter of the state's entire methane emissions.
SCGC's efforts to stop the flow of gas by pumping fluids directly down the well have not yet been successful, so they have shifted their focus to stopping the leak through a relief well.  They are also exploring other options to stop the leak. The relief well process is on schedule to be completed by late February or late March.
Part of the problem in stopping the leak lies in the base of the well, which sits 8,000 feet underground. Pumping fluids down into the well, usually the normal recourse, just isn’t working. Workers have been ”unable to establish a stable enough column of fluid to keep the force of gas from coming up from the reservoir” The company is now constructing a relief well that will connect to the leaking well, and hopefully provide a way to reduce pressure so the leak can be plugged.
Methane, the main component of natural gas, is 25 times more potent than carbon dioxide when it comes to climate change impact. About one-fourth of the anthropogenic global warming we’re experiencing today is due to methane emissions, according to the Environmental Defense Fund. Leaks like the current one in California, it turns out, are a major contributor.So far, over 150 million pounds of methane have been released by the leak, which connects to an enormous underground containment system. The cause of the leak is still unknown.  Research has also revealed that more than 38 percent of the pipes in Southern California Gas Company’s territory are more than 50 years old, and 16 percent are made from corrosion- and leak-prone materials.
Right now, relief efforts have drilled only 3,800 feet down—less than half of the way to the base of the well. At that rate, the torrent of methane pouring into California won’t be stopped any time soon. (Motherboard, 12/26/2015)

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