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Corrosion Found at Site of 2015 CA Gas Leak

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

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The injection well casing at the center of a massive natural gas leak at a California underground storage facility in 2015 was afflicted with “severe external corrosion,” according to a new report that’s part of a root cause analysis of the failure.

The Aliso Canyon leak, said to have been the worst natural gas leak in U.S. history in terms of environmental impact, was discovered at a facility owned by the Southern California Gas Co. in October 2015. The exact location of the leak was not found until late December that year, and the leak was not stopped until February 2016; more than 8,000 households were evacuated during that time, according to Southern California Public Radio.

Aliso Canyong well pad
Scott L, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The leak at the Aliso Canyon underground storage facility reportedly released 100 metric tons of natural gas into the atmosphere. 

During the crisis, California Gov. Jerry Brown declared a state of emergency, ordering withdrawals of gas from Aliso Canyon for transportation and storage elsewhere. The Aliso Canyon facility uses injection wells to inject natural gas into natural underground storage areas.

Corrosion, Mechanical Damage

According to a report sent by Blade Energy Partners to the California Public Utilities Commission this month, the consulting firm found a full fracture of the 7-inch casing, as well as a 19-inch axial split running down the lower section of the split casing. Outer-diameter corrosion surrounding the split, the report notes, indicates that the axial split was “associated with wall thinning due to corrosion.”

Aliso corrosion
Images: Blade Energy Parnters/California PUC unless noted

Blade Energy Partners has uncovered severe corrosion near the area of the casing that split, causing the leak.

The report also cites examples of mechanical damage on the casing, including slip marks, tool marks and tong marks.

The new report is a status update on the root-cause analysis, which is not complete. According to Blade, the next step of the investigation will include surface corrosion mapping of the casing in question. The firm will use a portable 3-D laser scanning device to map corrosion on the outer diameter, allowing technicians to then analyze depth and other properties.

The investigators will also look into what may have caused the mechanical damage that’s been observed, and how that may have played into the leak.

The analysis has uncovered a 19-inch axial split in addition to the full break in the casing.

In addition to the Blade root-cause analysis, the CPUC and the Division of Oil, Gas and Geothermal Resources are conducting investigations into the incident.

Gas Release, Storage Moratorium

The Aliso Canyon leak reportedly released more than 100 metric tons of natural gas into the atmosphere over the nearly four-month period before it was sealed.

The well that was the source of the leak was built in 1953, and according to reports, in 1979, its emergency shut-off valves were removed because they were failing. They were not required to be replaced.

The leak led to a moratorium on underground gas storage in the state in 2016, and a study of the feasibility of eliminating the use of the Aliso Canyon facility.


Tagged categories: Corrosion; NA; North America; Oil and Gas; Program/Project Management

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