Wednesday, January 27, 2021     Volume: 21, Issue: 47

Santa Maria Sun / Spotlight

The following article was posted on June 18th, 2020, in the Santa Maria Sun - Volume 21, Issue 16 [ Submit a Story ]
The following articles were printed from Santa Maria Sun [] - Volume 21, Issue 16

Terracore pushes ahead with Cat Canyon proposal while others fall away


Despite low oil prices and a difficult local political climate, Terracore continues to move forward with plans to expand its operations in the Cat Canyon oil field.

Despite other projects in the Cat Canyon oil field being canceled, Terracore continues to move forward with its plans to drill new wells.

Over the last few months, two other companies have abandoned their plans to develop new wells in the oil field. Rick Rust, a representative from Aera Energy—which withdrew its application in May—said the decision was a combination of the downturn in oil prices as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and the uncertainty of Santa Barbara County’s permit process.

But Rich Field, environmental health safety regulatory and compliance manager with Terracore, said that while the company is aware of both of these factors, it plans to continue moving forward with its proposal. 

“As a prudent oil and gas operator with an emphasis on safety, we realize the uncertainty of the approval process in Santa Barbara County,” Field said. “We are presenting an environmentally superior project to the original submittal, which represents the current ideology of transitioning from fossil fuels to alternative energy sources.”

Last year, Terracore—a company of 52 people that is based in Denver, Colorado, but only operates in Cat Canyon—took over ERG’s existing operations and its plans to expand in the oil field. Following the acquisition, a representative from the company asked for the project to be removed from the county’s Planning Commission agenda to give the new project leaders time to modify the proposal. 

The company hasn’t changed the size and scope of the expansion. Field said the company is producing about 2,000 barrels of oil a day through its existing operations and is anticipating producing an additional 10,000 barrels a day through this west Cat Canyon project. But the company is proposing two mitigation measures for the project to offset the greenhouse gas emissions the development produces. 

One measure includes plans to replace processing heaters, which are sources of carbon dioxide emissions, with a heating system that’s emission free. Additionally, the company is proposing to install solar panels that would generate enough energy to run the operation and divert unused energy into the power grid. Field said the latter is part of the company’s acknowledgement that there is a transition taking place from fossil fuels to alternative energy sources. 

“What better way to demonstrate that than to have the capability to run our field,” Field said. “We want to be able to offset emissions locally.” 

Field said the company hopes to present these amendments to the project’s final environmental impact report, which was released in February 2019, to the county Planning Commission this summer. 

Despite other projects in Cat Canyon having been withdrawn, Field said the company feels confident about the changes made to the proposal and the team that’s working on it. The company is made up of people with operation and regulation experience. Additionally, many of the people, like Field, have worked in the local oil and gas industry for decades. 

“Most of the hires include folks that worked on the regulatory side or on the industry side or both,” Field said. “We’ve had experiences and know what to expect. We know our roles to be successful in Santa Barbara County.”


• The Lompoc library is challenging the community to collectively read 5,000 books this summer from June 15 through Aug. 31. To participate in the challenge, a resident should submit a book review through text, poem, photo, or drawing to enter into a drawing with a chance to win a Kindle Fire tablet. Residents can sign up for the challenge at

• The Central Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board recently released an interactive map tool designed to help farmers identify proposed setback requirements under a draft agricultural order the board released earlier this year. The board held virtual workshops to discuss this order in June. The board will vote on whether to adopt this order early next year. 

Staff Writer Zac Ezzone wrote this week’s spotlight. Send tips to

Weekly Poll
Is the state being forthcoming enough with vaccine information?

No. They need to be transparent about why each county gets the amount it does.
It's not really in their hands; the federal government is the one making state allocations.
Yes. The weekly Facebook press conferences make information accessible and clear.
I have no idea—I don't keep up with the state's announcements!

| Poll Results

My 805 Tix - Tickets to upcoming events