In This Issue

California Proposed Requirements for Underground Gas Storage Projects

Title 14, Chapter 4

On May 19th, the Department of Conservation (DOC) proposed new regulations to further enhance the safe operation of natural gas storage facilities in California. “We believe these will be seen as the most comprehensive and stringent regulations for underground gas storage in the nation,” said Ken Harris, who as State Oil and Gas Supervisor heads the DOC’s Division of Oil, Gas and Geothermal Resources. The proposed regulations aim to prevent leaks and include stronger well construction standards and requirements for daily testing of wellheads. Once adopted, these regulations will supplant emergency rules adopted after the Southern California Gas Company natural gas leak in Aliso Canyon that ended in early 2016.

The proposed regulations build upon emergency regulations currently in place but are more comprehensive. They include a number of provisions aimed at proactively preventing leaks rather than responding to them. The broad objectives of the proposed regulations are to establish:

  • Well construction standards and mechanical integrity testing specifically for gas storage wells. This includes requirements to ensure that no one point of failure in a well can cause a leak.
  • Standards and specifications for risk management and emergency response plans for underground gas storage projects. Contingencies such as earthquakes, hazardous material spills, and explosions and fires must be considered.
  • Standards and specifications for project data requirements – including protocols for operators’ record retention and management – as well as the inspection, testing, and maintenance of wellheads and valves.
  • Monitoring and inspection requirements to ensure early detection of any indication of integrity concerns. This includes continuing practices required under the emergency regulations, such as the use of infrared imaging to spot leaks and daily inspections of gas storage wellheads.
  • Protocols for the decommissioning of an underground gas storage project.

The public comment period will run through 5 p.m. on July 13 and include two public hearings. Comments on the draft regulations can be sent via email. The first public hearing will be held 4-7 p.m. on July 10 at the Natural Resources Agency auditorium, 1416 Ninth Street, Sacramento. The second hearing will be conducted 1-4 p.m. July 12 at the Ronald Reagan State Building, 300 South Spring Street, Los Angeles.

For a copy of the proposed California Underground Gas Storage regulations, contact Jessica Foley.