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Porter Ranch. No plans for second customary relief well

Southern Company Gas has delayed plans to drill a second relief well, apparently hoping the first relief well will be able to kill the well by late February. How curious. No explanation was given. The company has been very close-mouthed about what they are doing, probably sensibly, given the tsunami of lawsuits coming their way.

It is customary in the well-control industry to drill two relief wells in case something goes wrong with the first one. That was done to stop the flow of oil from the Deepwater Horizon blowout in the Gulf of Mexico.

At the Aliso Canyon site, SoCalGas has been working for weeks to grade the hillside in order to create a flat well pad for the second well. According to a SoCalGas spokesman, that work was delayed by the rain a couple of weeks ago.

The company initially planned to begin drilling the second relief well today. However, company officials notified regulators earlier this week that drilling has been postponed to Feb. 8. If for some reason the first relief well fails to stop the leak, the second would not be in position to stop it for at least another couple of months.

SoCal Gas tried to renege on an agreement to relocate those in the area to houses, because supply was scarce and prices were going up. Instead, they wanted to put people in hotels. The Los Angeles District Attorney said no way, and forced them to honor their agreement. Over 3,100 households have already been relocated with 2,500 more on the waiting list.

Most hotel and motel rooms and rental homes in the region were snapped up soon after the company launched its relocation effort in November. The resulting shortage pushed monthly rates as high as $15,000 as landlords sought compensation for short-term rental of properties they usually lease for a year or longer.

Meanwhile, Porter Ranch businesses are hurting, since thousands have temporarily relocated. Sure, they may come back, but these local businesses have rents to pay. If this ongoing disaster last too long, they may go out of business. And then sue Southern California Gas for damages.

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