It's taken more than three months, but the leak at a natural gas storage facility near Porter Ranch might be about a week away from being stopped. An adviser for Governor Jerry Brown told Porter Ranch residents that on Monday, the last phase of the plan to get to and cap the leak would go into effect, kicking off "a process of over four, even five days by the time you have the initial control, or stop, of the leak until when it would be determined stopped by independent assessment," reports KPCC. That's, of course, if every single thing goes as planned, and in the at least seven previous attempts to plug the leak, things have not gone as planned.
Once the leak is stopped, there will be months of inspections of the other wells on site (there are over 100), meaning it will be months before there's a return to "normal operations." That means that the natural gas storage field is basically frozen—nothing can go into it and nothing can come out. And that could mean cutbacks on gas during a hot summer or a cold winter.
As it is, the field is operating on skeleton supply: it can hold as much as 86 billion cubic feet of natural gas, but it's currently holding only 15 billion cubic feet, a move made to reduce pressure on the leaking well and lessen the risk of another leak. 15 billion cubic feet is also "the minimum amount the L.A. Basin needs" on peak cold or hot days, when customers are cranking their A/C or heaters. And, says the director of energy division of the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC), the Porter Ranch disaster caused the CPUC to discover that they don't actually have a backup plan in the event of the West's biggest underground natural gas storage facility being out of service for months.
· Porter Ranch: Massive gas leak could be capped next week [KPCC]
· Attempts to Plug the Enormous Porter Ranch Methane Leak Have Made Things Way Worse [Curbed LA]