In early September 2015 the California Department of Conservation announced they were levying civil penalties of $4,500 on each of the 30 oil and gas operators who are active in the State and failed to report water usage as required under new rules from SB 1281.
The full list of all 30 operators is posted below.
While most of the operators are located in the Bakersfield area, three operate in Ventura County.
SB 1281 by Sen. Fran Pavley (27th District) "requires operators to submit on a quarterly and well by well basis about 250 pieces of data related to the water used" in their oil and gas production. This includes the source of water used, any treatment, and the ultimate disposal of the water. The first reporting was released in August and is available HERE for public information.
According to the press release issued on Sept. 3 The Division of Oil, Gas and Geothermal Resources (DOGGR) may issue larger penalties on companies who continue to fail to meet reporting deadlines.
433 operators are registered as active in California and are required to report this information. Of that number 329 "attempted to comply." But only 242 operators provided complete and "compatible" data. DOGGR is working with those operators who tried to comply but had issues with properly formatting their data.
Operators in 2014 brought up more than 205 million barrels of oil and with that 3.3 BILLION (with a B) barrels of water. A barrel is about 43 gallons. That produced water is trapped underground with the oil and gas, and when brought up must be separated from the oil and gas, and then disposed of.
Below is a list of the 30 operators who have been fined -
The California Department of Conservation is holding a series of public workshops as part of the rule making process regarding the state Underground Injection Control (UIC).
Next THURSDAY, September 10, 9:00 am to Noon
2055 Harbor Boulevard
Below is the Press Release dated September 4
DEPARTMENT OF CONSERVATION SETS WORKSHOPS
FOR UNDERGROUND INJECTION REGULATIONS
SACRAMENTO – The California Department of Conservation (DOC) will conduct three workshops this month to receive public input on plans to update oil and gas regulations. The regulations implement the Division of Oil, Gas, and Geothermal Resources’ Underground Injection Control (UIC) Program.
“We are making a concerted effort to bring our UIC Program into full compliance with the federal Safe Drinking Water Act to ensure public health and safety and environmental protection,” State Oil & Gas Supervisor Steven Bohlen said. “These workshops are part of an informal, pre-rulemaking process to update the regulations.”
The workshop schedule is as follows:
Los Angeles -- September 9, 1-4 p.m., Ronald Reagan State Building, 300 S. Spring Street Suite 1726.
Ventura – September 10, 9 a.m.-noon, Beach Marriott, 2055 Harbor Boulevard.
Bakersfield – September 15, 1-4 p.m., Four Points by Sheraton, 5101 California Avenue.
The Division also is inviting written input about the issue (more background can be foundhere). Comments can be mailed to the Department of Conservation, Attention: UIC Workshop, 801 K St. MS 24-02, Sacramento, CA, 95814. The Division strongly encourages comments to be submitted by September 15. Comments submitted at a later date will be considered for the development of draft regulations if time permits. The Division’s intent is to commence a formal rulemaking process by the end of this year or the beginning of 2016. Additional comment periods and public hearing will be a part of the rulemaking process.
The Division will provide a brief presentation regarding the UIC Program and its goals for this rulemaking at each workshop, but the primary purpose of the meetings is to receive input from the public on the six major regulatory goals outlined in the discussion paper linked above:
♦ Clarifying the standards for ensuring zonal isolation of injection projects (zonal isolation means keeping various materials, such as oil and groundwater, separated).
♦ Expressly defining the quality of water to be protected when constructing wells.
♦ Codifying best practices for well construction.
♦ Establishing permitting and regulatory requirements specific to cyclic steam operations.
♦ Establishing requirements specific to cyclic steam in diatomite formations. This effort will include a regulatory framework for responding to surface expressions (oil leaking to the ground’s surface) and clarification regarding injection above fracture gradient (that is, at a high enough pressure to break the surrounding rock in the underground formation).
♦ Clarifying the process and standards for establishing maximum allowable surface pressure for injection operations.
Members of the public who wish to be on the mailing list for UIC-related rulemakings can utilize the following link to join: http://www.conservation.ca.gov/index/Pages/MailingLists.aspx.
In other parts of California (Kern County) oil companies have been selling oil field waste water, which they have "treated" to farmers for agricultural use for decades.
Oil giant Chevron recycles 21 million gallons of that water each day and sells it to farmers who use it on about 45,000 acres of crops, about 10% of Kern County's farmland. LA Times article by Julie Cart, May 2, 2015
And when tested that water has been found to contain acetone and methyl chloride. Only recently are state officials requiring better testing of water used for agriculture.
Acetone was found in testing in 2014, but not in a March 2015 test. An accompanying graphic cited the levels of three chemicals found in untreated oil field water: oil, 240,000-480,000 parts per million; acetone, 440-530 parts per billion; and methylene chloride, 82-89 parts per billion. However, the graphic omitted the levels found in tests of treated water: oil, 130-1,300 parts per million; acetone, 57-79 parts per billion; and methylene chloride, 26-56 parts per billion. Also, the source of the untreated water was misidentified. The samples were from the Poso Creek Oil Field, not an oil field owned by Chevron. LA Times Article by Julie Cart, May 2, 2015
And Sen. Fran Pavley is sponsoring legislation, which will strengthen testing of water used in agriculture.
But until then requirements for testing are minimal, and the decades old practice is likely to continue.
Is this a practice in Ventura County?