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PG&E gas storage field to stay closed for inspections after leaks found

Pacific Gasand Electric Co.'s McDonald Island natural gas storage facility mayremain closed for months as the company addresses leaks at the field, PG&Esaid July 11.

PG&E temporarily stopped withdrawing and injecting gasat the 81-Bcf facility June 18 while it conducts inspections on the field'swells, company spokesman Nick Stimmel said in July 11 email. Headded that withdrawals and injections could start again in September.

PG&E discovered low-level methane emissions duringinspections at its McDonald Island storage facility in San Joaquin, Calif., andflyovers affirmed that that methane in the area exceeded background levels, theCalifornia Department of Conservation noted in a late June letter.

In the wake of the massive, multi-month Aliso Canyon storagefield leak near Los Angeles, gasstorage facility operators across California have andstate regulators have strengthened their oversight.

Data showed that there was between 236 kilograms and 763kilograms per hour of gas escaping from PG&E's McDonald facility — far lessthan the 60,000 kilograms per hour of methane that was released during theAliso Canyon leak.

The utility, a PG&ECorp. subsidiary, isolated two of the facility's wells, but thestate Department of Conservation's Division of Oil, Gas and Geothermal Resourcesdirected the company to test all the wells at the facility using the samecomprehensive, multi-phase testing process the division required of AlisoCanyon operator SouthernCalifornia Gas Co.

"We moved up our annual inspections for the facilityinstead of waiting until later this fall. After we complete our inspections, wecould restartwithdrawing and injecting gas by September," Stimmel said.

Although the facility will be out of service, Stimmel said,the region McDonald serves has other sources of gas, and so the field closureshould not materially impact supplies.

"There's a lot of gas supply in the system so we'reable to meet customers' natural gas needs using our other facilities," hesaid.