METHANE TESTING DTLA

Methane Testing Success on Building Renovation to Help House Homeless in DTLA

Terra-Petra provided methane testing services for an existing 3-story, slab-on-grade building located at 601 East 5th Street in Los Angeles, CA. The 16,500 SF 1922 building is being renovated as a homeless shelter. 

The building site is located within a City of Los Angeles Methane Buffer Zone. The methane soil gas investigation complied with LADBS Information Bulletin Ref. No. 91.7104.1, P/BC 2002-101, was performed under Terra-Petra’s LADBS Methane Testing Lab License #10224.

METHANE TESTING DTLA

Overcoming Methane Testing Difficulties

Terra-Petra has encountered a few difficulties performing work within existing buildings. One such difficulty is limited accessibility.Standard truck-mounted drill rigs can’t access the inside of a building if there’s not enough head clearance (ceilings lower than the top of the drill) or a limit on door opening size. 

Drilling equipment must fit through the front door, be lower than the ceiling, and be light enough to be handled by personnel or pushed on a hand cart.

Once inside the building, underground utilities may be challenging to locate, as DigAlert only identifies exterior utility lines. As-built plans are always essential when working indoors. If these plans aren’t available, utility clearance equipment may be employed.

About Core Cutting

Another difficulty is the existing concrete slab. Most direct push equipment can punch through existing concrete slabs, but leaves a less-than-optimal hole that needs to be repaired after use. Core cutting through the slab is another option that allows a clean cut through the slab and is easy to repair. 

Core cutting also adds time and costs to the project. But, if a slab is post-tensioned, it is imperative that the cables are located prior to entering the slab, since hitting a cable could damage the structural integrity of the slab.  

Methane Testing Downtown Los Angeles

These are just some issues associated with completing a methane investigation inside an existing building. Terra-Petra is, however, always well-equipped to get the job done, no matter the situation. And the success of the 601 East 5th Street building inspection has proved that to be true. We are proud to contribute to the Los Angeles City Center Redevelopment Plan.

Learn more about Terra-Petra’s methane testing and inspection services.

CA State Oil and Gas Well Plug and Abandonments

CalGEM - State Oil and Gas Well Plug and Abandonments

Update (October 10, 2022): CalGEM is releasing for public comment a draft orphan well screening and prioritization methodology​ to ra​nk and prioritize orphan, deserted, and potentially deserted wells for potential state abandonments. CalGEM invites all comments and feedback sent to CalGEMOrphanWells@conservation.ca.gov through October 14​, 2022. ​

​General

An oil and gas state abandonment is the plugging and abandonment (permanent closure and sealing) of an orphan or deserted (or potentially deserted) oil and gas well through a state contract. Because the wells concerned are orphan or deserted, they do not have a financially solvent, responsible operator. Where there is a financially solvent, responsible operator, CalGEM will first pursue a plug and abandonment at the operator’s expense.​

For Contractors

​​For contractors performing public works plugging and abandonment services, CalGEM has provided​ various resources and documents to help ensur​e compliance with applicable laws, regulations, and other requirements.​

​Process for Safely Plugging and Abandoning WellsA well is plugged by placing cement in the well​bore or casing at certain intervals, as specified in California laws or regulations. The purpose of the cement is to seal the well-bore or casing and prevent fluid from migrating between underground rock layers.

Cement plugs are required to be placed across the oil or gas reservoir (zone plug), across the base-of-fresh-water (BFW plug), and at the surface (surface plug). Other cement plugs may be required at the bottom of a string of open casing (shoe plug), on top of tools that may become stuck down hole (junk plug), on top of cut casing (stub plug), or anywhere else where a cement plug may be needed. Also, the hole is filled with drilling mud to help prevent the migration of fluids.​

​State Abandonment Funding

​There are four sources of funds used for state abandonments:

  • The Oil, Gas, and Geothermal Administrative Fund (OGGA) is funded by operator assessment fees. Starting with the 2021/2022 fiscal year, expenditures from this fund to plug and abandon wells are capped at $5 million per year.
  • The Hazardous and Idle-Deserted Well Abatement Fund (HIDWAF) is funded by operator idle well fees and continuously appropriated to CalGEM to plug and abandon wells to mitigate a hazardous or potentially hazardous condition. There are, however, limitations to spending from the HIDWAF – the well to be plugged and abandoned must be hazardous or idle-deserted and must be a “well of an operator subject to the requirements” of PRC section 3206 (idle well regulations).
  • In fiscal years 2022/2023 and 2023/2024, $50 million in California state General Fund dollars are appropriated to CalGEM to plug and abandon orphan and deserted wells – for a total of $100 million dollars over the two years.
  • In August 2022, California was awarded $25 million in initial grant funding from the federal government’s orphan well program authorized in the bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act.  California is eligible for potentially an additional $140 million in future grants.

State Abandonment Authority

The Public Resources Code (PRC) provides various presumptions and circumstances under which CalGEM may find that a well has been deserted. If CalGEM determines a well has been idle-deserted, then CalGEM may order the plugging and abandonment of the well. If an operator fails to rebut such presumptions and fails to commence the ordered work, then CalGEM may undertake the plugging and abandonment of the well. CalGEM’s options for funding the plugging and abandonment differs depending upon the solvency of the operator.

  • CalGEM may find a well to be deserted, and therefore order the well plugged and abandoned, based upon credible evidence. Credible evidence that a well has been deserted includes, but is not limited to, the operational history of the well, the response or lack of response from the operator to inquiries and requests from CalGEM, the extent of compliance by the operator, and other actions of the operator with regards to the well. If such evidence exists, CalGEM may order the plugging and abandonment of the well.
  • CalGEM may order to be carried out or undertake the abandonment of a well CalGEM determines to be a hazardous or an idle-deserted well under PRC section 3255. A hazardous well is a “well that is a potential danger to life, health, or natural resources and for which there is no operator responsible for its plugging and abandonment.” To order or undertake the abandonment of a well under PRC section 3255, a well must not only be deserted – it must also be orphan. CalGEM must assess the financial resources of the operator and determine there is no operator with the financial resources to fully cover the cost of plugging and abandoning the well.

Key Facts

  • California’s crude oil production has declined steadily in the last few decades, increasing the number of nonproductive, or “idle”, wells throughout California.
  • CalGEM maintains an idle well management regime that includes the most rigorous testing standards in the country and collects fees that can be used to fund the plugging and abandonment of deserted and orphan wells—wells that likely do not have a responsible, solvent operator to appropriately plug and abandon the well, leaving their proper abandonment to the State.
  • ​Currently there are over 37,000 known idle wells in California, all of which will eventually come to their end of life, and their operators will be required to plug the wells and decommission associated production facilities.
  • The state has also documented over 17,000 wells that have been idle for over 15 years and over 5,000 wells that are orphan, deserted, or potentially deserted​ wells. Left un-remediated, these wells and facilities can contaminate waterways and soil, serve as a source of climate and air pollutants, and can present physical hazards to people and wildlife.
  • CalGEM may determine the status of a well as deserted based upon specific criteria laid out in the PRC. Evidence of desertion under the PRC includes, but is not limited to, failure to pay idle well fees, the operational history of the well or production facility, the response or lack of response of the operator to inquiries and requests from CalGEM, the extent of compliance by the operator with the requirements, and other actions.
Terra-Petra Sponsors and Attends 2022 Environmental Law Conference at Yosemite®

Terra-Petra Sponsors Environmental Law Conference at Yosemite®

Terra-Petra was a proud sponsor of the 31st Annual Environmental Law Conference at Yosemite® October 13 – 15. Produced by the California Lawyers Association, the annual conference is recognized nationally as the state’s largest and most prestigious gathering of leaders in environmental, land use, and natural resources law.

The conference was held live and in person at the Tenaya Lodge in Yosemite National Park, after two consecutive years of virtual attendance.

Leaders in environmental, land use, and natural resources law attended with the opportunity to receive 11.5 Hours MCLE credits. Education sessions included topics and discussions, such as Federal Action on Environmental Justice: A Conversation with EPA’s Martha Guzman, and an informal talk with Attorney Jan Chatten-Brown, this year’s Lifetime Achievement Award Recipient. Chatten-Brown gave a firsthand account of her stellar career and contributions to environmental law. 

Terra-Petra Sponsors 31st Annual Environmental Law Conference at Yosemite®

Terra-Petra Team in Attendance

Terra-Petra’s Vice President, Justin Conaway, Director of Field Operations, Dan Valdez, and Senior Environmental Engineer Bahar Amoli attended, representing our Environmental Engineering Division.

Our Terra-Petra team enjoyed meeting and visiting with some of the nation’s top environmental officials. Which included attorneys and other environmental engineering professionals. They also enjoyed the outdoor highlights in the beautiful Yosemite National Park, including sight seeing in and around El Capitan, Half Dome and hiking Mount Hoffman.

Justin Conaway commented, “This conference offers such a great environment to connect with our clients on a deeper level by inviting spouses, children and dogs to attend. Getting to know some more personal things about the people we work with really humanizes us and allows for a more comfortable natural environment to socialize. This conference is a must-attend for me every year for these reasons.” 

Terra-Petra Environmental Engineering

Terra-Petra maintains a working knowledge of numerous environmental and soil gas mitigation matters. Our staff includes Methane Consultants, Radon Mitigation Engineers, Construction Managers, Civil Engineers, Registered Environmental Assessors, Registered Geologist/Certified Engineering Geologist, Petroleum Geologists and Petroleum Engineers. This experience gives Terra-Petra the ability to find compromise solutions for any environmental concern that may arise.

Learn more.

Oil Well Due Diligence Services – Cal State Dominguez Hills Campus

Terra-Petra has been providing Oil Well Due Diligence services for a well-known Southern California contractor at California State University Dominguez Hills Campus in Carson, CA. The site will be developed for Student Housing.

Terra-Petra was able to locate a metallic anomaly having the signature of a steel cased oil well by using a Geometrics G858 cesium magnetometer (G858). The location of the well was staked in anticipation of excavating the area to expose the well head. The Southern California District Office of the California Geologic Energy Management Division (CalGEM) was notified after the metallic anomaly was identified. Terra-Petra prepared and submitted a Construction Site Well Review Application (CSWR) through email to their office. We also notified with the local CalGEM dispatcher our intent to uncover the well and perform an oil well leak test of the casing.

During the excavation we were able to remove surface mulch, excavating soil, removing debris and noting in use infrastructure. The well was located in the east sidewall of the excavation pit at approximately 8 ft. below surface grade. Care was taken to control dust during the excavation and backfilling.

CalGEM was invited to be onsite during the leak test. However, they elected to participate remotely via Facetime to inspect the casing and to witness the leak testing activities as they were being conducted. The subject steel well casing measured approximately 13.5-inch diameter and was found to have a metal top plate continuously welded within the well casing, approximately 0.25-in. to 0.5-in. below the top of the top of the steel well casing. The metal top plate was inspected and apparently was not labeled with well name and/or date of well abandonment.

Results of the emissions monitoring at the top of the well excavation pit showed Non-Detect for combustible gas (as methane and C1 to C6 petroleum hydrocarbons) and ND for hydrogen sulfide as background levels.

Results of emissions monitoring at the top and sides of the exposed well casing showed detectable
concentrations of combustible gas ranging from zero to 2 ppmv with non-detectable concentrations of
hydrogen sulfide (less than 0.1 ppmv). Results of the bubble leak-testing activity showed no bubbles and therefore no indication of pressured gas leakage from the top of the well casing.

Prior to backfilling the excavation, as we always do, Terra-Petra surveyed the casing by obtaining ground specific field locations and elevations within the defined mapping limits. Said areas included centerline monuments to establish parcel Right of Way, Location of Oil Well in question, NAD 83 latitudes and longtitudes to an accuracy of 6 decimal places as well as the elevation of top of well in NAVD 88.

Terra-Petra directed the backfilling of the well excavation pit by using the backhoe to push stockpiled soil back into the pit, and a sheep’s foot wheel to compact the soil to restore surface grade elevation contours. A trailer-mounted 400-gallon water buffalo with pump and hose were used to manage dust control during soil excavation and backfilling activities

All work performed so far has been completed in compliance with the California Public Resources Code (PRC) Article 4: Regulation of Operations: Code Sections 3200-3258.


Terra-Petra has become an expert in physically locating buried oil wells. Our methods have proven to be effective many times over. If you are in need of oil well locating services, please contact us.

Methane Testing – Wilshire Blvd, Los Angeles

Terra-Petra recently completed a methane soil gas investigation for a redevelopment project of an existing building on Wilshire Blvd. The site is located within a City of Los Angeles Methane Zone and Methane Buffer Zone.

The current phase will consist of routing new electrical conduit to two new underground transformer vaults. From the vaults, the conduit will proceed west to a new electrical Pull Station, then be encased in concrete on the inside north wall of the existing parking structure down to the lower level. There, it travels under the existing parking structure going south under the parking structure to the electrical room on the first floor of the existing building.

DWP requested that methane soil gas probes be installed along the entire path of the conduit. “The report needs to cover any area where the conduit, structures and equipment are going to be”. Conduit is placed and trenches backfilled and patched from the area of the future electrical room in the building, under the existing parking structure and encased up the vertical wall and stubbed out at location of the Pull Station. Based on DWP standards, the 2 transformer vaults and the Pull Station will be vented. Our testing area was limited to the lots within the perimeter.

Oil Well Consulting & Investigation – Torrance, CA

Oil Well Consulting & Investigation - Torrance, CA

Terra-Petra Environmental Engineering was retained for our expertise in locating oil wells by a well-known Southern California developer.   Upon investigation on the CalGEM well finder site a single oil well was shown as being within the property boundaries.

Terra-Petra has experienced a consistent inaccuracy with CalGEM’s online mapping system. Considering this, we typically use this website for general information and rely on our tried-and-true methods for physically locating the wells. Part of our process utilizes geophysical locating equipment in an attempt to identify any metallic anomalies having an oil well signature.

For this project, we were able to identify a fully imaged anomaly typical of a steel cased oil well. After mobilizing our excavation equipment, we were able to uncover the anomaly and verify that it was a steel cased well having a 17” diameter steel casing. The well number was found welded on the cover confirming our discovery. Our survey crew was brought out to identify the well’s location based on NAD 83 latitudes and longitudes to an accuracy of 6 decimal places per CalGEM’s requirements.

We are still in the process of verifying the exact location of the well relative to the online mapping systems. At this time, we can say that the actual location varies from what is shown online. The degree to which it varies will be verified soon. 

Learn more about Terra-Petra’s Oil Well Services

Project Gallery

Click on any image below to zoom in and view the process of locating this oil well

Rampart Mint Welcomes 22 Formerly Homeless People

Rampart Mint Welcomes 22 Formerly Homeless People

Great article from beverlypress.com below about a this project in the Rampart Village area of Los Angeles.  Terra-Petra is very proud to have been a part of this project.  We designed and inspected the methane mitigation system during development, working with both the West Hollywood Community Housing Corporation and KFA.

West Hollywood Community Housing Corporation is proud to announce the opening of Rampart Mint, an all-new, affordable apartment community for formerly homeless individuals. Located in the Rampart Village area of Los Angeles, Rampart Mint includes 22 permanent supportive housing units and one unit for an on-site resident manager.

Co-developed with Affordable Living for the Aging, Rampart Mint is built on city-owned land. ALA will provide the on-site building management and has decades of experience working with special needs populations.

“When residents begin to move in, it makes the project real for us,” said Matt Mason, WHCHC’s director of real estate development. “We’re all very proud to be able to create quality affordable apartments for L.A.’s most vulnerable community members.”

The KFA-designed building includes a spacious community room with kitchenette, a computer area, a rooftop garden with amazing views of the city, a building manager’s office and social services office.

“This has been a labor of love,” WHCHC Assistant Project Manager Rachel Peled said. “These last few days putting the final pieces in place, knowing their life-changing value, was electric.”

Rampart Mint was built by Dreyfuss Construction. Pioneering universal design principles have been incorporated so every unit accommodates those with and without physical limitations. Residents can truly age in place without fear of displacement.

“I am so pleased to see the Rampart Mint project come to life,” said Los Angeles City Councilman Mitch O’Farrell, 13th District, who represents parts of the Westlake neighborhood on the Los Angeles City Council. “My office has actively supported this project from the beginning, and I welcome 22 apartments for chronically homeless individuals with special needs in the district I represent. I look forward to continuing our work with WHCHC to create more quality affordable housing, including supportive housing, for our most vulnerable.”

Oil Well Leak Test – Los Angeles

Oil Well Leak Test Services - Los Angeles, CA

Terra-Petra is undertaking, on behalf of a Los Angeles developer, the task to locate, uncover and leak test a single oil well in Los Angeles, CA.  The proposed site will consist of a two-story, raised foundation, single family dwelling. The California Department of Conservation, Geologic Energy Management Division (CalGEM) requested this work to be performed as necessary oil well due diligence.

The tasks performed may encompass a geophysical survey, a well head excavation, a well head survey, and a well head leak test and summary report. All work will be completed in compliance with the California Public Resources Code (PRC) Article 4: Regulation of Operations: Code Sections 3200-3258.

Terra-Petra Oil Field Services

Terra-Petra’s oil field services offer our clients a one-stop shop for all their oil field needs.  Our team will manage your project from start to finish, encompassing everything from initial consultation to the final report and submission of NFA (No Further Action) letter.

With the seemingly endless moving parts involved in successful oil field construction site plan reviewoil well abandonment / re-abandonmentvent cone installationconsulting and more, it’s important to have an expert by your side every step of the way to manage the process and make sure your budget and schedule stay on track.  With Terra-Petra’s hands-on expertise in ALL aspects of oil field management and consulting we stand out amongst other firms in the industry.

Vapor Intrusion Mitigation System Implementation And Inspection In Palo Alto, CA

Terra-Petra has overseen the implementation of the vapor intrusion mitigation system design (a combination passive venting and sub-slab membrane system) for the Porter Drive Redevelopment in Palo Alto, CA and is now wrapping up inspections of the installation of the system.

The development consists of the following: A new one level below grade structure having two stories above grade with an approximate 11,080 SF footprint.

We followed our standard inspection process which included the following:

  • Document review prior to site visit
  • Jobsite kickoff meeting
  • Pre-installation field inspection
  • Substrate preparation field inspection
  • Application observation field inspection
  • Testing field inspection
  • Final approval

More about Terra-Petra’s vapor intrusion mitigation system design services:

Vapor Intrusion refers to the migration of Soil Gas Vapors emanating from the earth into an occupied space or structure. The particular vapors of concern are volatile organic compounds (VOCs), including chlorinated solvents, petroleum hydrocarbons, methane, hydrogen sulfide and semi volatile organic compounds (SVOCs) to name a few. Terra-Petra can prevent these vapors from intruding into your structure.

Some governing agencies will require any new structure built on a contaminated site to protect the occupants from potential soil vapor intrusion with a Subslab Building Protection System, while some developers elect to do so voluntarily because of a potential human health risk down the road. Regardless of the reason, Terra-Petra can design a system for you. We routinely design these passive and active Building Protection Systems across numerous cities and counties governed by many different agencies.

A typical Building Protection Systems consists of an impermeable soil vapor membrane and a pressure relief system. Where deemed appropriate, Terra-Petra can design mechanical vapor extraction systems, electronic gas detection and alarm systems; employing the latest technologies.

Vapor Intrusion Inspection At San Fransisco Affordable Housing Development

Terra-Petra Environmental Engineering is providing inspection services for the installation of the vapor intrusion mitigation system (VIMS) design for the project located at 4840 Mission Street in San Francisco, CA.

The site will be redeveloped into a mixed use space which will include 137 units of affordable housing, a 10,000 SF space for a nonprofit health clinic, and 5,000 SF of retail space.

The footprint of the redevelopment overlays a parking garage of 40 cars and bicycles, with four at-grade residential apartments, lobby, mechanical, electrical, trash, and maintenance rooms occupying the first story. The building footprint is approximately 44,000 SF.


More about Terra-Petra’s vapor intrusion mitigation system design services:

Vapor Intrusion refers to the migration of Soil Gas Vapors emanating from the earth into an occupied space or structure. The particular vapors of concern are volatile organic compounds (VOCs), including chlorinated solvents, petroleum hydrocarbons, methane, hydrogen sulfide and semi volatile organic compounds (SVOCs) to name a few. Terra-Petra can prevent these vapors from intruding into your structure.

Some governing agencies will require any new structure built on a contaminated site to protect the occupants from potential soil vapor intrusion with a Subslab Building Protection System, while some developers elect to do so voluntarily because of a potential human health risk down the road. Regardless of the reason, Terra-Petra can design a system for you. We routinely design these passive and active Building Protection Systems across numerous cities and counties governed by many different agencies.

A typical Building Protection Systems consists of an impermeable soil vapor membrane and a pressure relief system. Where deemed appropriate, Terra-Petra can design mechanical vapor extraction systems, electronic gas detection and alarm systems; employing the latest technologies.

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