California Energy Commission Awards Funding to Protect Natural Gas System from Earthquakes
By Media Office Staff
The earthquakes that hit the Ridgecrest area in July are a graphic reminder of the damage seismic activity can do. But, a California Energy Commission (CEC) research grant will help the state improve the safety of its natural gas systems during temblors.
In May, the CEC awarded a $4.9 million Natural Gas Research Program grant to the University of California, Berkeley, to improve the seismic risk assessment of California’s natural gas storage and pipeline infrastructure.
Working with a diverse team of experts, the university will develop open-source software that will better gauge the risks to natural gas storage and pipeline systems from seismic activity. The tool will improve the safety and integrity of natural gas storage, piping, and infrastructure systems by helping regulators and owners direct seismic mitigation efforts to the most vulnerable components.
“In the event of an earthquake, natural gas pipeline and storage facilities could experience significant damage,” said UC Berkeley Professor Jonathan Bray. “It is not hard to imagine the impact this could have on everything from response to recovery efforts.”
The software will be developed by researchers from UC Berkeley, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, the Pacific Earthquake Engineering Research Center, Slate Geotechnical Consultants, and UC San Diego. Cooperating utilities are Southern California Gas Company and Pacific Gas & Electric Company.
The CEC invests $21.6 million annually through the Natural Gas Research Program to support an array of natural gas-related projects such as those that will reduce greenhouse gas emissions, capture and use biogas, or advance pipeline and infrastructure safety.