Friday, February 28, 2020     Volume: 20, Issue: 52

Santa Maria Sun / News

The following article was posted on August 20th, 2019, in the Santa Maria Sun - Volume 20, Issue 25 [ Submit a Story ]
The following articles were printed from Santa Maria Sun [] - Volume 20, Issue 25

West Cat Canyon oil project decision delayed indefinitely

By Zac Ezzone

Almost three months after oil company ERG requested to delay the discussion over its West Cat Canyon Revitalization Project, the company that recently purchased ERG has asked to do the same. 

Discussion over this project, which includes the development of 233 new steam injection wells, originally took place during the Santa Barbara County Planning Commission’s March 13 meeting. The discussion was continued until March 27 so that ERG could address questions from the commission about the project and the environmental impact review completed for the proposal. 

The hearing was again continued to May 29, at which time ERG requested the discussion be further delayed so it could continue to work through the commission’s questions. The item was subsequently added to the commission’s Aug. 14 meeting agenda. At the August meeting, the Planning Commission agreed to postpone the item indefinitely at the request of TerraCore, the oil and gas company that recently purchased ERG.

TerraCore Chief Operating Officer Mark DePuy told the commissioners that the company needs time to continue working on the project as it assumes all of ERG’s operations. Commissioner Dan Blough asked when the project would reappear on the agenda, but DePuy couldn’t provide a firm timeframe. 

“I’m not sure exactly when we will have an answer for you, but I can assure you within the next several weeks we should be in touch with staff and start the process of coming up with different solutions and ideas,” DePuy said.

SCS Engineers representative Nathan Eady said it’ll be several months before the project is ready to be placed on the commission’s agenda again. During that time, the company is developing plans to add a solar energy component to the project to mitigate the amount of greenhouse gas emissions generated by the proposed new oil wells. 

According to a March 13 staff report for the project, without any mitigation, the project would produce 251,000 metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions at peak operations. The commission requested that ERG create a greenhouse gas mitigation plan to significantly lower this number.

TerraCore purchased ERG sometime after the commission’s May meeting. This acquisition follows ERG’s declaring bankruptcy in 2015. Local oil company HVI Cat Canyon, formerly known as Greka, also recently filed for bankruptcy.

At the meeting, DePuy said the field operations in Cat Canyon will essentially remain the same as under ERG. Currently, the company operates 185 active or idle non-thermal wells and 314 active or idle thermal wells on the company’s property.

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