SoCalGas Seeks to Burn Gas Leaking from Well

PORTER RANCH, CA – Southern California Gas Co. is seeking regulatory approval for a plan to capture and burn some gas leaking from a well site above Porter Ranch, sickening some residents and forcing more than 2,000 to flee their homes.

In a statement, Gas company spokeswoman Kristine Lloyd said that the company has been discussing a two-phase burn option with the South Coast Air Quality Management District. Permit applications for Phase 2 were submitted on Monday and for Phase 1 on Friday.

AQMD approvals are necessary before any work can be done.

The burn system will be discussed at a public hearing on an abatement order being considered by the AQMD today in Granada Hills. The order would require SoCalGas to minimize natural gas leaking from the well.

The leak at well site SS 25 near the summit of Oat Mountain was discovered on Oct. 23 and since then it has emitted about 65,000 tons of methane, a greenhouse gas, into the atmosphere, according to the California Air Resources Board.

The incineration system would get rid of the methane and chemicals like mercaptan, which gives natural gas the rotten egg smell, Atwood said. The system consists of a charcoal absorber and a thermal oxidizer. The system will either filter out some of the chemicals or burn off the gas.

The company also wants to bring in a bigger burn disposal system at some point.

SoCal Gas has made about a half-dozen attempts to kill the well, and it is drilling a relief well and preparing a site for another one. The company, in a filing with the Securities Exchange Commission, said it has spent $50 million trying to kill the leaking well through the end of last year.

The system is meant to decrease the amount of the odorized natural gas being emitted into the atmosphere and neighboring community, Lloyd said in an email.

The system is designed to be installed in two phases and, when fully operational, might incinerate up to 20 million standard cubic feet per day.