All-Optical Multi-Sensor Well Monitoring System to Secure Gas Storage Operations

This project will introduce and work with California utilities to implement a safe gas storage reservoir monitoring program.

Paulsson, Inc.


Van Nuys, CA

Recipient Location


Senate District


Assembly District



Amount Spent



Project Status

Project Update

The project kicked off in July 2020. The project team has started on the selection and design of prototype sensors for the monitoring system and a Prototype Sensor Report is expected in early 2021.

The Issue

As storage fields age, the associated downhole and surface equipment becomes fragile and ultimately wears out. The equipment aging process, in combination with a lack of surveying and monitoring of the downhole and surface equipment, leads to failures that are often slow to be detected and repaired. If the gas storage fields were monitored by robust sensors, the pre-failure symptoms would be recorded and problems could be mediated prior to failure.

Project Innovation

This project will develop a large aperture array of subsurface optical sensors that will detect anomalous flow, strain, temperature, or fatigue-induced micro seismic signals by continuously monitoring gas storage fields using an optical sensor system. These sensors will detect pre-failure micro seismic noise, excessive strain and small leaks allowing the operator to intervene before catastrophic failures occur. The project will design and lab test the prototype, install the field optical sensor system in a borehole at a PG&E natural gas storage facility, and perform a borehole monitoring survey for at least six months using the installed monitoring system.

Project Benefits

This project will develop a new line of fit-for-purpose optical sensors and a comprehensive sensor system, and will lead to technological advancement and breakthroughs to overcome barriers to the achievement of the State of California's statutory energy goals by providing a more secure energy supply for electricity generation and a safer supply of natural gas. It will also reduce the release of methane gas into the atmosphere and help to meet California's goals on lowering greenhouse gas emissions.

Environmental & Public Health

Environmental Sustainability

The natural gas released from underground storage system, mostly methane, has a greenhouse gas effect 86 times that of CO2. In addition, a significant amount of carcinogenic benzene might also be released. This monitoring system developed in this project can reduce leakage from natural gas storage wells and prevent events such as Aliso Canyon from happening again.

Increase Safety


Natural gas storage wells that are cycled between injection and withdrawal undergo a faster aging process because of the cycling stress on both the casing steel and the concrete surrounding the casing. A monitoring system will allow improved safety of the gas storage operation by installing sensors that provide the status of the gas field and equipment in real time and informing the utility of potential issues.

Key Project Members

Project Member

Bjorn Paulsson



Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory


Match Partners


Paulsson, Inc.


Contact the Team