The California Department of Conservation’s (DOC) Division of Oil, Gas, and Geothermal Resources emergency regulations for all underground gas storage projects in the state of California were approved on February 5, 2016. The emergency regulations were established under the emergency rulemaking process to protect public health, safety, and the environment while permanent regulations are being finalized.
Consistent with the mandate of the Governor’s emergency proclamation related to the Aliso Canyon Natural Gas Storage Facility in Los Angeles County, DOC determined that there was an immediate need to require implementation of performance standards specifically designed to ensure that operators of underground gas storage facilities are properly mitigating risks and taking all appropriate steps to prevent uncontrolled releases, blowouts, and other infrastructure-related accidents. The emergency regulations accomplish all of the following:
- Require at least a daily inspection of gas storage wellheads, using gas leak detection technology such as infrared imaging.
- Require ongoing verification of the mechanical integrity of all gas storage wells.
- Require ongoing measurement of annular gas pressure or annular gas flow within wells.
- Require regular testing of all safety valves used in wells.
- Establish minimum and maximum pressure limits for each gas storage facility in the state.
- Require each storage facility to establish a comprehensive risk management plan that evaluates and prepares for risk at each facility, including corrosion potential of pipes and equipment.
The emergency rule is available on the DOC website.