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Calif. well could leak methane for months

Calif. well could leak methane for months

A methane leak at a natural gas storage well in California could be months away from being plugged, officials say.

Southern California Gas Co., which owns the well, doesn’t expect to be able to plug the methane leak until late February or even late March, The Los Angeles Times reported this weekend

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The leak is spewing gas at a rate of about 110,000 pounds per hour, and it’s sent millions of pounds of methane into the atmosphere since it was discovered in October. 

The cause of the leak is unknown, and initial efforts to plug it by injecting a chemical solution into the well failed due to obstructions several hundred feet down, the Times reported.

SoCal Gas is now drilling two relief wells in order to pump the plugging solution closer to the natural gas reservoir, but those wells will take months to complete.

Drilling for the first well started on Dec. 4, and crews have reached a depth of 4,000 feet, a little under halfway to the natural gas reservoir, which is 8,500 feet down. Work on the second well will begin on Jan. 20, according to the report.

Methane is the primary component of natural gas, and its impact on climate change is about 25-times more potent than carbon dioxide. Green groups have said the leak is grounds for strict new environmental rules at oil and gas storage facilities.

Local businesses and residents have sued over the leak, which has forced the evacuation of about 1,500 homes nearby.