June 09, 2017

SoCalGas Uses Methane Capture Technology During Pipeline Safety Work


Conservation effort saves enough natural gas to fuel 2,000 homes


LOS ANGELES, June 9, 2017 – Southern California Gas Co. (SoCalGas) announced the company used its innovative gas capture technology this week when emptying natural gas from a permanently abandoned pipeline in Santa Clarita, Calif.  The special process allows for gas to be saved for later use while eliminating noise and emissions that occur in the traditional venting method.  In total, approximately 390,000 cubic feet of natural gas was captured – about what 2,020 homes use each day on average in the U.S. 

This week, crews decommissioned a two-and-half-mile section of pipeline that was recently replaced by a new pipeline in a new location. The work required the pipe to be completely emptied of about 422,050 cubic feet of natural gas.  Instead of following the standard process of venting the gas, SoCalGas compressed most of it, and then pumped it into two large tanks so it could be put back into SoCalGas' system and used by customers.  Some gas along the two-and-half mile pipeline was vented to the atmosphere, however, SoCalGas was able to reduce the pressure from 220 psi to 31 psi, resulting in a significant reduction in gas lost to the atmosphere.

"We're pleased to continue to use this groundbreaking innovation,” said Rick Phillips, senior director of SoCalGas' Pipeline Safety Enhancement Plan. "Capturing the methane we would traditionally vent to atmosphere not only reduces noise or smells neighbors might notice, but also minimizes impacts to the environment. We hope to expand the use of this new innovation whenever its application may be suitable.”

SoCalGas has been using methane capture technology for about nine months.  To date, the company has captured and reinjected more than 900,000 cubic feet of natural gas back into its system.  This is approximately equal to what 4,660 homes use each day on average in the U.S.  Prior to the use of methane capture technology, this natural gas would have been vented and lost to the atmosphere.

Nationwide, emissions from natural gas distribution systems like SoCalGas' represent less than 1 percent of greenhouse gas emissions.

The methane capture technique is being used as part of SoCalGas' Pipeline Safety Enhancement Plan (PSEP), a multi-billion-dollar program that identifies various high pressure pipeline sections throughout SoCalGas' system and schedules them to be pressure-tested or replaced. PSEP also includes provisions to upgrade, replace or retrofit hundreds of mainline valves in the system with technology that allows them to be opened or closed remotely by system operators from a central control location, or that automatically shuts off the flow of natural gas in the event of a large drop in pressure.

SoCalGas dedicates significant resources to improving the safety and integrity of its more than 101,000 miles of natural gas pipelines. In 2017, the company plans to spend approximately $1.2 billion for improvements to distribution, transmission and storage systems and for pipeline safety.

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About SoCalGas

Headquartered in Los Angeles, SoCalGas® is the largest natural gas distribution utility in the United States, providing clean, safe, affordable and reliable natural gas service to 21.7 million customers in Central and Southern California. Its service territory spans 22,000 square miles from Fresno to the Mexican border, reaching more than 550 communities through 5.9 million meters and 101,000 miles of pipeline. More than 90 percent of Southern California single-family home residents use natural gas for home heat and hot water. In addition, natural gas plays a key role in providing electricity to Californians—about 60 percent of electric power generated in the state comes from gas-fired power plants.  

SoCalGas has served communities in California for 150 years and is committed to being a leader in the region’s clean energy future. The company has committed to spending $6 billion over the next five years to modernize and upgrade its gas infrastructure, while also reducing methane emissions. SoCalGas is working to accelerate the use of renewable natural gas, a carbon-neutral or carbon-negative fuel created by capturing and conditioning greenhouse gas emissions from farms, landfills and wastewater treatment plants. The company is a subsidiary of Sempra Energy (NYSE: SRE), a Fortune 500 energy services holding company based in San Diego. For more information visit socalgas.com/newsroom or connect with SoCalGas on Twitter (@SoCalGas), Instagram (@SoCalGas) and Facebook.

Contact Info

Christine Detz Office of Media and Public Information (213) 244-8176 [email protected]