Board approves update to AGA’s gas storage containment principles

The American Gas Association’s board of directors agreed to incorporate two practices recommended by the American Petroleum Institute last week dealing with natural gas storage into the gas utility trade association’s safety enhancement commitment for pipelines.

The action came as California’s Division of Oil, Gas & Geothermal Resources confirmed in a Feb. 18 announcement that a well that had been leaking methane since Oct. 23 at Southern California Gas Co.’s Aliso Canyon gas storage facility near Los Angeles had been permanently sealed.

SoCalGas, a Sempra Energy subsidiary, began drilling a relief well on Dec. 4, 2015, and started to pump cement into the leaking well’s base to stop the gas flow. It also launched a relocation program for affected residents at the nearby Porter Ranch subdivision under a Dec. 24 agreement with the Los Angeles County Attorney’s office.

California Gov. Jerry Brown (D) declared a state of emergency in connection with the matter on Jan. 6 and issued a series of directives to state agencies and lawmakers. The state’s two US senators, Democrats Barbara Boxer and Dianne Feinstein, introduced an amendment to a broad energy policy bill on Jan. 29 calling for US Sec. of Energy Ernest G. Moniz to direct a federal investigation of the incident.

“While the leak has been stopped and the well permanently sealed, we have much work to do, partnering with state and local agencies to help the local community and impacted residents return to normal,” SoCalGas Chief Executive Dennis V. Arriola said on Feb. 18.

The AGA board’s action last week incorporates API Recommended Practices 1170 and 1171 into the association’s Commitment to Enhancing Safety for pipeline operations nationwide.

“AGA and its members were active participants in the development of RPs 1170 and 1171, a process which brought together regulators, academia, industry and the public in an approach accredited by the American National Standards Institute,” AGA Pres. David K. McCurdy said on Feb. 22.

AGA said the US gas industry supports S. 2276, which the US Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee approved on Dec. 9, 2015. The federal pipeline safety reauthorization bill directs the US Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration to promulgate safety standards for the oversight of underground gas storage facilities, AGA said.

Contact Nick Snow at

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