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Advocates Question Southern California Gas Tapping Of Aliso Canyon

crews work on stopping a gas leak at a relief well at the Aliso Canyon facili...

Credit: Associated Press

Above: crews work on stopping a gas leak at a relief well at the Aliso Canyon facility above the Porter Ranch area of Los Angeles, Dec. 9, 2015.

Southern California Gas has tapped into the Aliso Canyon storage facility near Los Angeles to meet demand the past two days.

Consumer advocates are angry. They say the recent move to pull gas out of the Aliso Canyon storage facility is an example of the company manipulating supplies to justify tapping the storage field. Consumer Watchdog is calling for an investigation.

Southern California Gas, a Sempra Energy company, determined the recent snap of cold weather put enough pressure on supplies that they needed to draw on the Aliso Canyon reserves.

It is the first time the company has tapped the Aliso Canyon reservoir since a well-blowout in October 2015. The subsequent spill spewed millions of cubic feet of gas into the air. It took nearly five months to shut down the defective well and stop the gas from spewing from the site.

Related: California Finishes Safety Review Of Aliso Canyon After Blowout

Company officials stand by their decision to tap the supply in the underground facility. The company released an e-mail statement.

“This morning’s customer demand illustrates the sudden peaks we regularly experience with changes in the weather. We work with the California Independent System Operator and our customers to manage these changes in demand on an hourly basis to help prevent curtailments or service interruptions.”

The company said it followed guidelines set up by California regulators to access the resource.

San Diego based engineer Bill Powers has reviewed the company’s gas supply situation. Southern California Gas doesn’t need to use the Aliso Canyon field, Powers said. He insists they can meet demand with pipeline supply and three other Southern California gas fields.

“The focus since that leak began over a year ago has been on mitigation measures to assure that SoCalGas would not need to withdraw from that storage field until those wells are completely checked out and safe,” Powers said.

Powers and Los Angeles based Consumer Watchdog want the state attorney general to look into the situation. They worry the gas company is manipulating gas supply data to justify reopening the gas storage field.

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