Leak in El Paso’s Mojave Gas Pipeline Leads to Shutdown

By Published On: May 4, 2012

A major El Paso natural gas transmission pipeline feeding into the Bakersfield area leaked an unknown quantity of gas and was shut down May 2. The 30-inch pipes on the Mohave gas pipeline at issue--the East Side and West Side Lateral lines near Arvin--serve six power plants, two cogeneration facilities, and a meter station. “There are no reliability issues on the ISO grid related to the gas leak,” Stephanie McCorkle, California Independent System Operator, stated. There also was no price impact caused by the gas supply curtailment. “Had this event occurred in August, for example, when the temperatures are much higher and supplies are tight, then there might have been a price spike,” said Gary Ackerman, Western Power Trading Forum executive director. “However, the spring hydro runoff is ample and the loads are moderate.” In addition, current demand in the state is low because of the cloudy cool weather. CAISO’s peak demand for May 3, for example, was a moderate 28,507 MW. How long gas supplies will be curtailed on the two lateral lines is not known. A rosy scenario by El Paso estimates that the earliest the pipelines would be back in full operation was the evening of May 4. “Mojave Pipeline is working expeditiously to assess the situation and a repair plan and will provide further updates as information becomes available,” El Paso stated. El Paso is in contact with state and federal agencies, including the Pipeline Hazardous Materials and Safety Administration, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, CAISO, and the California Energy Commission, according to El Paso spokesperson Richard Wheatley. The gas into the Mojave East Side lateral was completely closed off, while gas supplies were cut in half on the West Side lateral, to about 450 psi. Supplies can flow into the west pipe’s receipt point, which is at the end opposite the flow of El Paso gas--and site of the leak. The “incident” which led to the leak was not disclosed. It occurred in an orchard in a rural part of Kern County, according to Wheatley. “We don’t have a cause,” he said. “There was no fire or injures.” Pacific Gas & Electric spokesperson David Eisenhower said no PG&E facilities were affected. “We were prepared in case it had any serious impacts on electric service in the local area, which it fortunately did not.” The curtailment of the gas supplies is not expected to impact Southern California, which lost 2,200 MW with the continued outage of the San Onofre nuclear plant.

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