Subscribe free to our newsletters via your
  Oil and Gas News from OilGasDaily.Com  

Subscribe free to our newsletters via your

California blowout led to largest US methane release ever
by Staff Writers
Davis CA (SPX) Feb 29, 2016

Aerial image of Aliso Canyon natural gas storage facility shot from UC Davis scientist Stephen Conley's airplane, which measured methane emissions from the facility, which was sealed on Feb. 11. Image courtesy Stephen Conley/UC Davis. For a larger version of this image please go here.

The Aliso Canyon natural gas well blowout released over 100,000 tons of the powerful greenhouse gas methane before the well was sealed on Feb. 11, according to the first study of the accident published in the journal Science. The results confirm that Aliso Canyon is the largest methane leak in U.S. history.

The research effort by the University of California, Davis; National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and partners showed that during the peak of the Aliso Canyon event, enough methane poured into the air every day to fill a balloon the size of the Rose Bowl.

"Our results show how failures of natural gas infrastructure can significantly impact greenhouse gas control efforts," said NOAA's Tom Ryerson, co-lead scientist on the study.

The disaster will substantially impact California's ability to meet greenhouse gas emission targets for the year, the researchers said.

Co-lead scientist and pilot Stephen Conley of Scientific Aviation and UC Davis said first readings in early November were so high he had to recheck his gear.

"It became obvious that there wasn't anything wrong with the instruments," he said. "This was just a huge event."

At the time, Conley and his specially equipped plane were working with UC Davis on a California Energy Commission project searching for pipeline methane leaks. The state agency asked him to overfly the area around the breached SoCalGas well.

"Real-time information is invaluable for making good decisions," said the California Energy Commission's Guido Franco.

Conley teamed with Ryerson, who pioneered techniques for assessing oil spills with airborne chemical sampling during the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill and the 2012 Elgin rig blowout in the North Sea. They assembled a group of researchers from the University of California, Irvine; the California Energy Commission; and the Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences at the University of Colorado Boulder, many of whom had previously collaborated on regional air quality projects.

The team's measurements confirmed that high concentrations of methane and ethane were surging from the breached well into the densely populated San Fernando Valley.

The analysis found that at its peak, the blowout doubled the rate of methane emissions from the entire Los Angeles basin and temporarily created the largest known human-caused point source of methane in the United States, twice as large as the next-largest source, an Alabama coal mine.

Total emissions during the 112-day event were equal to one-quarter of the annual methane pollution from all other sources in the Los Angeles basin combined. The disaster's impact on climate will be equivalent to the annual greenhouse gas emissions from over half a million passenger cars.

During the three-month event, Conley made 13 research flights in his single-engine Mooney TLS, carrying instruments that provided real-time measurements of methane and ethane, two components of natural gas, and captured air samples for more comprehensive analysis later in the laboratory.

Eventually, more than 11,000 nearby residents were evacuated and Gov. Jerry Brown declared a state of emergency.

In addition to providing real-time air quality data above and around the leak site to state regulators, the measurements will allow researchers the opportunity to check the accuracy of greenhouse gas measurements made using remote sensing systems such as satellites.

Near the well site, co-author Donald Blake of UC Irvine gathered samples of the leaking natural gas to determine its composition and compare to Conley's airborne measurements. His analysis found a slew of other compounds present in natural gas, including benzene, butanes, pentanes and more.

"The methane concentrations were extraordinarily high, the highest we've seen in ambient samples," said Blake, who has measured air pollutants across the globe for more than 30 years. "We also detected other volatile organic compounds."

The mega-leak has drawn attention to the broader problem of fugitive emissions from natural gas production, processing, pipeline and storage infrastructure across the country.

The study highlights the value of rapid-response airborne sampling for independent, time-critical, accurate, and detailed information about major chemical releases, the authors said. Measuring leak rates, plume locations, and plume composition would also help officials assess public health risks, the effectiveness of leak control, and climate and air-quality impacts.

"If we don't measure these things quickly, we won't have any idea what kind of response might be called for," Conley said. "We're happy that we could provide state officials with the scientific information they needed."

The authors of "Methane emissions from the 2015 Aliso Canyon blowout in Los Angeles, CA" are: Stephen Conley (Scientific Aviation and UC Davis), Guido Franco (California Energy Commission), Ian Faloona (UC Davis), Don Blake (UC Irvine), Jeff Peischl (University of Colorado CIRES and NOAA), and Tom Ryerson (NOAA).


Related Links
University of California - Davis
All About Oil and Gas News at

Comment on this article via your Facebook, Yahoo, AOL, Hotmail login.

Share this article via these popular social media networks DiggDigg RedditReddit GoogleGoogle

Previous Report
Spain's Repsol loses 1.2 bn euros in 2015 due to oil price plunge
Madrid (AFP) Feb 25, 2016
Spain's oil giant Repsol said Thursday it had lost 1.2 billion euros ($1.4 billion) last year after putting aside nearly three billion euros in special provisions for a plunge in crude prices. The past few months have been trying for companies and countries which produce oil and other commodities, the prices of which have slumped as demand has slowed in China - the motor of global growth in ... read more

Europe 2030: Energy saving to become 'first fuel'

New model maps energy usage of every building in Boston

The forecast for renewable energy in 2016

US, Canada and Mexico sign clean energy pact

Understanding how turbulence drains heat from fusion reactors

Electric Car War Sends Lithium Prices Sky High

Creation of Jupiter interior, a step towards room temp superconductivity

New synthesis method developed at UEF opens up new possibilities for Li-ion batteriess

A new recipe for biofuel

Scientists unlock key to turning wastewater and sewage into power

WELTEC Group Acquires 3.3 MW Biogas Plant

ONR engineers innovative research in synthetic biology

Lithuania aims synchronization of electricity system with Europe: PM

Areva secures bridging loan to survive 2016

First Unit of Russia-India Kudankulam NPP Reconnected to Grid

New nuclear plants indication of growing trust between Russia and Iran

Dartmouth-led team develops method to predict local climate change

Climate 'carbon budget' soon maxed out: study

Mapping the world for climate sensitivity

French environment minister to head UN climate forum

VW faces huge US lawsuit over pollution cheating

Some distractions while driving are more risky than others

Uber defends driver scrutiny in wake of shooting

Volkswagen chief predicts 'renaissance' in US business

Iraq deploys reinforcements for new Anbar push: officer

Iraqi artist imagines life in a bomb suit

Clashes in jihadist-held Iraq city halt after residents seized

Iraq tribesmen battle IS inside Fallujah for second day


Memory Foam Mattress Review
Newsletters :: SpaceDaily :: SpaceWar :: TerraDaily :: Energy Daily
XML Feeds :: Space News :: Earth News :: War News :: Solar Energy News

The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright 1995-2016 - Space Media Network. All websites are published in Australia and are solely subject to Australian law and governed by Fair Use principals for news reporting and research purposes. AFP, UPI and IANS news wire stories are copyright Agence France-Presse, United Press International and Indo-Asia News Service. ESA news reports are copyright European Space Agency. All NASA sourced material is public domain. Additional copyrights may apply in whole or part to other bona fide parties. Advertising does not imply endorsement, agreement or approval of any opinions, statements or information provided by Space Media Network on any Web page published or hosted by Space Media Network. Privacy Statement All images and articles appearing on Space Media Network have been edited or digitally altered in some way. Any requests to remove copyright material will be acted upon in a timely and appropriate manner. Any attempt to extort money from Space Media Network will be ignored and reported to Australian Law Enforcement Agencies as a potential case of financial fraud involving the use of a telephonic carriage device or postal service.