CENTER FOR PUBLIC INTEGRITY: EMAILS SUGGEST COZY RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN CALIFORNIA REGULATORS, OIL INDUSTRY

https://www.publicintegrity.org/2017/02/13/20686/little-too-cordial

“As California regulators oversaw an oil boom, industry representatives lobbied to ease drilling rules and shape new regulations. Four years of emails obtained by the Center for Public Integrity suggest a comfortable — at times, chummy — relationship between Gov. Jerry Brown’s appointees and the industry. Exchanging hundreds of notes, state officials at the California Department of Conservation and the Division of Oil, Gas and Geothermal Resources (DOGGR) forwarded internal memos to trade groups, alerted oil companies of legislative inquires and coordinated media responses with industry.”

(Sadly it doesn’t link any documents.) 

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PUBLIC ACCOUNTABILITY INITIATIVE: JERRY BROWN’S MILLION $ CONFLICT OF INTEREST AT ALISO CANYON / BROWN’S TIES TO THE OIL AND GAS INDUSTRY

https://news.littlesis.org/2017/08/02/governor-jerry-browns-million-dollar-conflict-of-interest-at-aliso-canyon/

“To the shock of many, California state regulators recently deemed the Aliso Canyon gas storage facility safe to reopen — the same facility that experienced a massive methane blow out in 2015-2016 that carried with it devastating health, economic, and environmental impacts. In allowing the facility to re-open, state regulators have effectively chosen to prioritize the interests and profits of the company behind the methane leak – Southern California Gas, which is owned by San Diego-based Sempra Energy – over the interests of residents in communities surrounding the facility and the public interest writ large. The decision raises fresh concerns about the state’s close relationship with the company. Specifically, Governor Jerry Brown’s sister, Kathleen Brown, is a highly-compensated board member of Sempra Energy – a significant conflict of interest that the governor’s office has apparently taken no steps to manage.”

https://littlesis.org/maps/2409-jerry-brown-s-million-dollar-conflict-of-interest

littlesis.org⁄maps⁄2409-jerry-brown-s-million-dollar-conflict-of-interest

https://public-accountability.org/2015/12/jerry-browns-ties-to-the-oil-and-gas-industry/

“Brown’s relationships with the oil and gas industry likely play a role in influencing his stances on these issues. This report, to be released in sections in the coming weeks, will detail Brown’s many ties to the industry: through his campaigns and political causes, which have benefited from significant industry funding; through close associates, who play advocacy and leadership roles in the industry; and through appointments to key regulatory roles. The relationships, some of which have never been reported before, raise new questions about Brown’s handling of oil and gas matters.”

https://littlesis.org/maps/1182-governor-jerry-brown-s-family-ties-to-methane-leak-and-fracking

littlesis.org⁄maps⁄1182-governor-jerry-brown-s-family-ties-to-methane-leak-and-fracking.png

WHO SHOULD BE HELD RESPONSIBLE FOR THE ALISO CANYON GAS LEAK? A SYSTEMATIC FRAMEWORK FOR ROOT-CAUSE ANALYSIS OF THE ALISO CANYON GAS LEAK USING THE ACCIMAP METHODOLOGY

“A USC-led analysis of the Aliso Canyon gas leak determined corporate dysfunction by the SoCalGas Co. and lax regulatory oversight charted the path to the largest greenhouse gas leak in U.S. history. The new study, researchers said, is the first to report what went wrong and why an estimated 97,100 metric tons of methane – more than what 440,000 cars emit in a single year – polluted a Los Angeles neighborhood from October 2015 to February 2016. The findings have pivotal implications for the nation because the United States operates the largest number of underground gas storage facilities in the world.”

https://phys.org/news/2018-02-held-responsible-aliso-canyon-gas.html

This is the document:

“A Systematic Framework for Root-Cause Analysis of the Aliso Canyon Gas Leak Using the AcciMap Methodology

Abstract
According to the US Energy Information Administration [1], the natural gas industry supports 33% of electricity generation in the US. Despite this critical role, the importance of safety and safety culture in the natural gas industry has not been adequately highlighted. The absence of strict regulations and lack of attention towards precautionary measures have allowed the industry to persevere with insufficient urgency for implementing innovative technologies and safety-first protocols. On October 23, 2015, the Aliso Canyon natural gas accident highlighted how the lack of regulatory oversight in a low probability, high consequence industry could have such impactful and unpredictable repercussions. This paper analyzes the concatenation of events that led to the Aliso Canyon gas leak. It adopts the AcciMap methodology, which was originally introduced by Rasmussen in 1997 as an accident investigation framework, to conduct a systematic root-cause analysis and capture different involved socio-technical factors that contributed to the leak.”

https://link.springer.com/chapter/10.1007/978-3-319-60645-3_13

 

(This is just to collect & information. I will comment on remarkable documents in another post.)

WHAT RISKS DO CALIFORNIA’S UGS FACILITIES POSE TO HEALTH, SAFETY, ENVIRONMENT AND INFRASTRUCTURE? (PREPARED FOR THE CALIFORNIA COUNCIL ON SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY JANUARY 2018)

“The general purpose of underground gas storage (UGS) is to meet varying demand for
natural gas (predominantly methane, CH4) over daily to seasonal time scales. The California UGS system in 2017 comprises 12 UGS facilities, four in southern California, seven in northern California, and one in central California with a total capacity to store just under 400 Bcf of natural gas. The California UGS reservoirs are all in depleted hydrocarbon reservoirs where natural gas is under high pressure (e.g., >1000 psi (~7 MPa) for most facilities). The handling and containment of high-pressure natural gas, which is highly flammable and explosive, entails risk. Each UGS facility in California is a combination of surface and subsurface systems designed to compress, inject, contain, withdraw, and process natural gas through wells that access the deep pore space of the storage reservoirs. The subsurface part of UGS comprises the reservoir for storage, the caprock (seal) for keeping buoyant gas from flowing upward, the overburden (rock above the caprock or reservoir) which contributes to additional storage security, and the well. We consider the wellhead to be part of the subsurface and surface parts of the UGS system, the latter of which also included flowlines connecting the wells to centralized compression and gas processing facilities. This chapter (Chapter 1) consists of six separate sections that stand alone but are also integrated to describe the risk posed by UGS in California and the mitigation of this risk.”

http://ccst.us/publications/2017/chapter-1.pdf

 

(This is just to collect & information. I will comment on remarkable documents in another post.)

STUDY UNCOVERS WIDESPREAD LEAK RISK FOR US UGS WELLS / MANY US UGS WELLS AT RISK FOR LEAKS

https://phys.org/news/2017-05-uncovers-widespread-leak-underground-natural.html

“With the average well built in 1963, more than 1 in 5 active US underground natural gas storage (UGS) wells could be vulnerable to leaks due to obsolete well designs, according to a new study from the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. These obsolete wells operate in 19 states across 160 UGS facilities that encompass 51 per cent of the total working gas capacity in the U.S. The oldest of these wells are concentrated in OH, PA, NY, and WV. The wells identified by the research team are likely to be similar in design to the well that failed and led to the nearly four-month Aliso Canyon gas leak in California in 2015/16 – now the largest single accidental release of greenhouse gases in US history.”

“The team identified more than 2,700 active UGS wells across the U.S. that, like the failed well at Aliso Canyon, were not originally designed for gas storage because they predate the facility. These repurposed wells have a median age of 74 years, and some are more than 100 years old. Though well age alone may not be an issue, older wells are particularly likely to have certain design deficiencies like single failure points that do not reflect the engineering lessons learned over time.”

https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/news/hsph-in-the-news/underground-gas-leak-risk

“More than one in five of the 15,000 active underground natural gas storage wells in the U.S. appear to be at risk for serious leaks due to obsolete well designs, according to a study by Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health researchers. The wells are similar in design to that of the Aliso Canyon gas storage facility in California that leaked for about four months in 2015-16 and is considered the largest single accidental release of greenhouse gases in U.S. history.”

“The study, led by Drew Michanowicz, postdoctoral research fellow in the Department of Environmental Health, and senior author Aaron Bernstein, associate director of the Center for Health and Global Environment at Harvard Chan School, identified more than 2,700 largely unregulated underground storage wells across 19 states with the same design as Aliso Canyon and that were not originally designed for gas storage. These repurposed production wells have a median age of 74 years, and some were constructed more than 100 years ago.”

This is the study:

http://iopscience.iop.org/article/10.1088/1748-9326/aa7030/meta

http://iopscience.iop.org/article/10.1088/1748-9326/aa7030/pdf

“A national assessment of underground natural gas storage: identifying wells with designs likely vulnerable to a single-point-of-failure

Abstract
The leak of processed natural gas (PNG) from October 2015 to February 2016 from the Aliso Canyon storage facility, near Los Angeles, California, was the largest single accidental release of greenhouse gases in US history. The Interagency Task Force on Natural Gas Storage Safety and California regulators recently recommended operators phase out single-point-of-failure (SPF) well designs. Here, we develop a national dataset of UGS well activity in the continental US to assess regulatory data availability and uncertainty, and to assess the prevalence of certain well design deficiencies including single-point-of-failure designs. We identified 14 138 active UGS wells associated with 317 active UGS facilities in 29 states using regulatory and company data. State-level wellbore datasets contained numerous reporting inconsistencies that limited data concatenation. We identified 2715 active UGS wells across 160 facilities that, like the failed well at Aliso Canyon, predated the storage facility, and therefore were not originally designed for gas storage. The majority (88%) of these repurposed wells are located in OH, MI, PA, NY, and WV. Repurposed wells have a median age of 74 years, and the 2694 repurposed wells constructed prior to 1979 are particularly likely to exhibit design-related deficiencies. An estimated 210 active repurposed wells were constructed before 1917—before cement zonal isolation methods were utilized. These wells are located in OH, PA, NY, and WV and represent the highest priority related to potential design deficiencies that could lead to containment loss. This national baseline assessment identifies regulatory data uncertainties, highlights a potentially widespread vulnerability of the natural gas supply chain, and can aid in prioritization and oversight for high-risk wells and facilities.”

 

(This is just to collect & information. I will comment on remarkable documents in another post.)

CALIFORNIA STATE REGULATORS SEE METHANE SPIKES AT ALISO CANYON (AGAIN, 2016/2017) / DURING PORTER RANCH WORKERS HID ANOTHER GAS LEAK (A CASE OF INTENTIONAL DIRECT VENTING)

http://www.scpr.org/news/2017/08/28/75042/socal-gas-field-still-emits-too-much-methane-state/

“In the month since Southern California Gas Company got the green light to refill its underground gas storage field near Porter Ranch, airborne monitors have detected at least two spikes of methane in the skies above the Aliso Canyon facility, state regulators say. ”

“But even after an extensive maintenance overhaul, the air above the facility has seen sporadic spikes in methane, according to data posted by the state Air Resources Board. Some amounts emitted were the highest recorded by methane-measuring aircraft since the the leak was plugged in mid-February 2016.”

arb.ca.gov⁄research⁄methane⁄NG_Chart_All

http://www.scpr.org/news/2016/03/18/58697/during-porter-ranc-stealthy-oil-workers-hid-anothe/

“In the midst of the much bigger Porter Ranch gas leak, another natural gas leak was spewing methane into the air. The oil company responsible for the second leak has been fined $75,000 by state oil regulators. The Division of Oil, Gas and Geothermal called the methane leak brazen and intentional violations of state law. Workers for The Termo Company had snaked a 2.5-inch pipe away from oil pumping equipment to hide its opening under a tree some distance away. The pipe was used to vent natural gas that was produced along with oil. In a written statement, state Oil & Gas Supervisor Ken Harris said, “Someone clearly made an effort to conceal the pipe, because even though we knew from aerial readings where it was generally, our field staff had to search carefully before finding it behind a tree.””

a.scpr.org⁄i⁄44d13325d926b228e4c61afbf2388cf6⁄168983-full

(INTENTIONAL DIRECT VENTING OF OIL & GAS WELLS IS A THING INDUSTRY WILL TELL YOU THEY WILL NEVER EVER DO, YET STILL IT HAPPENS OVER AND OVER AGAIN.)

LA TIMES: REGULATORS CONCLUDE ALISO CANYON COULD REOPEN EVEN THOUGH CAUSE OF MASSIVE GAS LEAK STILL UNDETERMINED / MORE PROBLEMS WITH PRESSURE BUILDUP PLAGUE SOCALGAS ALISO CANYON FACILITY

http://www.latimes.com/local/lanow/la-me-aliso-canyon-leak-reopen-20170117-story.html

“The troubled Aliso Canyon underground storage field is safe to reopen at a third of its original size, state regulators announced Tuesday, even though the cause of a massive leak that forced thousands to flee their homes has not been determined. The finding sets up an all-out battle over the future of the site near Porter Ranch, the scene of the largest methane gas leak in United States history. For more than four months, invisible gas spewed from a ruptured well, sickening many residents and effectively doubling the methane emissions rate of the entire Los Angeles Basin. Porter Ranch residents and some elected officials vowed Tuesday to fight efforts to reopen the field.”

“California regulators say that 34 of the remaining 114 wells — most of them drilled  decades ago for the purpose of extracting oil — have passed pressure tests and could be put back into use. The utility has a year to either permanently plug or repair the remaining wells. Records submitted to the state show that some of those wells have indications of below-ground leaks. Field operators are not required to report how much gas is lost in below-ground leaks. The gas company has pushed to resume operations at Aliso Canyon, saying the site is essential in providing gas to customers across Southern California.”

http://losangeles.cbslocal.com/2017/09/11/more-problems-socal-gas-aliso-canyon-facility/

“The largest gas storage facility in the West halted using a third of the wells pumping methane underground at high pressure just weeks after it resumed operations following a blowout that crippled it for nearly two years. Southern California Gas Co. said Monday it notified state regulators last month that 13 of 39 injection wells at Aliso Canyon were shut down after detecting a pressure buildup. State regulators and the company said there were no risks to public health or safety and no release of gas into the atmosphere, but the revelation raises questions about how such a problem could crop up so soon after SoCalGas upgraded equipment, passed rigorous tests and began operating under stricter rules at the aging facility.”

“But Anneliese Anderle, a former inspector and supervisor at the state oil and gas division, called it an incredible failure that indicated a systemic problem. “It’s a very high failure rate when you wouldn’t expect any,” said Anderle, who has consulted for a law firm suing the gas company. “It’s really an incredible number. Each of the 39 wells had gone through a lot of study and remediation. These were the 39 out of 114 that were their best. … It’s not good.””