Well Integrity for Natural Gas Storage in Depleted Reservoirs and Aquifers: DOE National Laboratories Well Integrity Work Group
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Well Integrity for Natural Gas Storage in Depleted Reservoirs and Aquifers: DOE National Laboratories Well Integrity Work Group


Introduction Motivation The 2015-2016 Aliso Canyon/Porter Ranch natural gas well blowout emitted approximately 100,000 tonnes of natural gas (mostly methane, CH4) over four months. The blowout impacted thousands of nearby residents, who were displaced from their homes. The high visibility of the event has led to increased scrutiny of the safety of natural gas storage at the Aliso Canyon facility, as well as broader concern for natural gas storage integrity throughout the country. Federal Review of Well Integrity In April of 2016, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), in conjunction with the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) through the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA), announced the formation of a new Interagency Task Force on Natural Gas Storage Safety. The Task Force enlisted a group of scientists and engineers at the DOE National Laboratories to review the state of well integrity in natural gas storage in the U.S. The overarching objective of the review is to gather, analyze, catalogue, and disseminate information and findings that can lead to improved natural gas storage safety and security and thus reduce the risk of future events. The “Protecting our Infrastructure of Pipelines and Enhancing Safety Act of 2016’’ or the ‘‘PIPES Act of 2016,’’which was signed into law on June 22, 2016, created an Aliso Canyon Natural Gas Leak Task Force led by the Secretary of Energy and consisting of representatives from the DOT, Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Department of Health and Human Services, Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), Department of Commerce and the Department of Interior. The Task Force was asked to perform an analysis of the Aliso Canyon event and make recommendations on preventing similar incidents in the future. The PIPES Act also required that DOT/PHMSA promulgate minimum safety standards for underground storage that would take effect within two years. Background on the DOE National Laboratories Well Integrity Work Group One of the primary areas that the Task Force is studying is integrity of natural gas wells at storage facilities. The DOE Office of Fossil Energy (FE) took the lead in this area and asked scientists and engineers from the National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL), Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL), Sandia National Laboratories (SNL), and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL)) to form a Work Group to address this area. This Work Group is an expansion of the original “Lab Team” comprising scientists and engineers from SNL, LLNL, and LBNL which was formed to support the State of California’s response to the Aliso Canyon incident and operated under the Governor of California’s Aliso Canyon Emergency Order (1/6/2016). The Lab Team played a key role in advising the State of California’s Department of Conservation (DOC) in its oversight of SoCalGas during and after the incident.

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