Company says it take months to plug the massive methane gas leak in Southern California

  • 8 years ago
PORTER RANCH, CALIFORNIA — Southern California Gas Co. estimates the natural gas leak in Porter Ranch, which began on Oct. 23, could take months to fix, the Los Angeles Times reported.

The leak, which has been pumping 1,200 tons of methane into the atmosphere each day, is thought to have been caused by a hole in a pipe about 500 feet below the surface.

Gas exited through the hole, filled the cavity surrounding the pipe and travelled down to the bottom of the well. From there, it traveled up to the surface through the soil.

Southern California Gas, the company responsible for the leak, tried to plug the well by injecting it with a cocktail of brine, mud, water, potassium chloride and bentonite clay, until it was blocked by an ice plug formed by the bonding of water molecules and methane.

Through special tubing, it then injected the well with an antifreeze, which managed to dissolve the plug and resume the mud cocktail injections into the pipe.

But the pressure of the gas was strong, and engineers worried that if they pushed too hard they could cause another rupture and a greater leak.

Instead, Southern California Gas decided to drill two relief wells for the insertion of the brine and mud. Drilling on the first relief well began on Dec. 4.

Southern California Gas will start drilling a second relief well on Jan. 20, in case the first one misses the target or is unable to stop the leak. Southern California Gas aims to plug the methane breach between late February and late March.

The company has so far paid for more than 2,000 residents to be relocated and is processing several thousand more requests.


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