Chevron U.S.A. Inc. (Chevron) proposes to drill 24 new wells (Attachment 1) in the Cymric oil field in Kern County to help mitigate the unrestricted flow of oil and water at the surface that is caused by a series of surface expressions referred to as “Gauge Setting 5” (GS-5). (Manmade surface expression can occur when steam injected under pressure to produce oil breaks through natural geologic barriers and comes to the surface; this is the case in the GS-5 surface expression). Sixteen new wells will be replacement production wells, drilled to the diatomite production zone, to manage ground deformation and continue to de-energize the reservoir through cooling (water injection) and withdrawal. Six new wells will be drilled at first, to act as intercept wells to plug and abandon six existing wells. Once the six existing wells are plugged and abandoned, the new wells will be used as temperature observation wells. Two new overburdened relief wells will be drilled to produce oil in amounts determined necessary to relieve pressure in areas believed to be influencing GS-5.
Since the purpose of these wells is part of the effort to stop GS-5, the wells are not likely to be long-term wells. The replacement wells may be in place 5-10 years, depending on how long it takes to relieve energy in the area and/or stop GS-5 flow. The observation wells may be abandoned quickly after information is obtained or remain in use for up to 10 years to continue monitoring the overburden. The overburden wells may be in place longer that the other wells depending on how long it takes to relieve energy in the area and/or stop GS-5 flow. Upon completion of useful life of the wells, the wells will be plugged and abandoned to CalGEM requirements, and the site fully restored to as near a natural state as practicable.
The goal of the project is to reduce and ultimately stop the uncontrolled release of oil, water, and associated fluids into the environment. As such, the project qualifies for the statutory emergency project exemption. Specifically, an emergency exists due to uncontrolled surface expressions associated with GS-5. The surface expressions involve the flow or movement of fluid and other underground materials, and the emergency exemption expressly applies to occurrences of soil or geologic movements.
The 24-well relief effort is necessary to (1) mitigate and abate the ongoing, imminent, clear, and significant harm to the environment and threats to public health, safety, and welfare that the surface expressions pose and (2) prevent the harm from recurring or increasing in magnitude. The data CalGEM considered demonstrate that such harm includes, but is not limited to, the unrestricted flow to the surface of 1,700 barrels (7,100 gallons) a day of oil and produced water. Broken wells can act as a conduits that allow fluid to escape from the target zone, and any compromised wells and uncontrolled flow violates underground injection control regulations and potentially endangers public health and safety and the environment.
In the three years since CalGEM issued the first NOV (V19-0008) to Chevron for the surface expression in the Cymric oil field, Chevron took measures that reduced the seep by 94%. If Chevron were to ease up on its efforts to control the GS-5 seep, history has shown that the seep may once again expand in size and volume, based on occurrences from 2003 to 2019.
A copy of this NOE and all other related materials are available for public inspection at CalGEM‘s CEQA Program, located at 715 P Street, 18th floor, Sacramento, CA 95814; or an electronic copy of these documents may also be accessed online at the State Clearinghouse: https://ceqanet.opr.ca.gov.
List of New Wells and Locations
API # Well Name Location Lat & Long Date of Permit
0403069573 0702V 35.352734 -119.672358 9.24.22
0403069577 0901X 35.353629 -119.671111 9.24.22
0403069580 1104V 35.351561 -119.669028 9.24.22
0403069578 1307U 35.349377 -119.668490 9.24.22
0403069568 0620V 35.355259 -119.673109 9.24.22
0403069572 0721U 35.354314 -119.673162 9.24.22
0403069572 0822V 35.354165 -119.671384 9.24.22
0403069569 0601R 35.353057 -119.673646 9.24.22
0403069566 1306V 35.350222 -119.667482 9.24.22
0403069570 0721B 35.355129 -119.671809 9.24.22
0403069574 2110B 35.347574 -119.661425 9.24.22
0403069575 2213X 35.345537 -119.660831 9.24.22
0403069576 2009V 35.348266 -119.662207 9.24.22
0403069566 2210B 35.347653 -119.660667 9.24.22
0403069579 2017B 35.343133 -119.662377 9.24.22
0403069565 2216U 35.345537 -119.660831 9.24.22
0403069563 2011RX 35.346634 -119.662924 9.23.22
0403069564 0703SX 35.352538 -119.672314 9.23.22
0403069561 0602NX 35.352956 -119.672692 9.23.22
0403069559 1512SX 35.346506 -119.666451 9.23.22
0403069560 1610RX 35.347495 -119.665543 9.23.22
0403069562 2214AX 35.344907 -119.660690 9.23.22
0403069558 1021AS 35.354518 -119.670042 9.16.22
0403069557 1811RS 35.346909 -119.664050 9.16.22