California temporarily bans new frac’ing and high-pressure steam injection. How many companies will attack the ban with lawsuits & threaten to leave town like cry baby Encana?

One day after Chevron announced it had finished cleaning up months-long, nearly 1.4 million-gallon leak in Cymric Oil field, another leak started with a second larger one appearing the next day spilling about 84,0000 gallons of oily fluid into a stream bed. Chevron appeals California State’s $2.7M fine

California: Chevron’s steam injection disaster, oil & wastewater gushing to surface grows more than 500,000 gallons to 1.3 million gallons. “Permits in these legacy oil fields are often given with a wink and a nod.”

California Announces New Oil and Gas Initiatives, ​​​​Actions reflect expanded mission and vision for regulators Press Release by The Department of Conservation’s Division of Oil, Gas and Geothermal Resources, Nov 19, 2019

News Release #2019-05
November 19​, 2019
SACRAMENTO – The Department of Conservation’s Division of Oil, Gas and Geothermal Resources – which will be renamed the Geologic Energy Management Division, or CalGEM, effective Jan. 1, 2020 – today announced a series of initiatives to safeguard public health and the environment, advance California’s goal to become carbon-neutral by 2045 and manage the decline of oil production and consumption in the state.
The new actions are being taken under CalGEM’s recently strengthened mission to protect public health and safety while safeguarding the environment, as outlined in legislation (AB 1057 – Limón) signed by Governor Gavin Newsom in October.
“These are necessary steps to strengthen oversight of oil and gas extraction as we phase out our dependence on fossil fuels and focus on clean energy sources,” said Governor Newsom. “This transition cannot happen overnight; it must advance in a deliberate way to protect people, our environment, and our economy.”
“These actions reflect an evolution in CalGEM’s mission that emphasizes public health and safety, environmental protection and reducing climate impacts associated with oil production,” said Natural Resources Secretary Wade Crowfoot.
The Natural Resources Agency oversees the Department of Conservation and CalGEM.
Three actions were announced today:
  1. ​​A halt of approvals of new oil extraction wells that use high-pressure steam to break oil formations below the ground, a process linked to recent oil leaks in Kern County

This moratorium prohibits new extraction wells that use a high-pressure cyclic steaming process to break apart a geological formation to extract oil. During the moratorium, regulators will consult with experts to examine records from recent leaks of oil and water, known as surface expressions, in the Cymric oil field in Kern County to determine whether high-pressure cyclic steaming can be done safely and in compliance with recent regulations that make surface expressions illegal. Oil and gas regulators could require certain safety practices, update regulations to impose new rules, or prohibit the practice altogether.

Surface expressions are illegal under new regulations that took effect April 1. CalGEM has issued several notices of violation for spills in the Cymric field, and is partnering with independent experts from the Lawrence Livermore and Sandia National Laboratories to assess underlying conditions in the Cymric formation. Simultaneous to this moratorium, CalGEM is also proactively assessing the safety of existing wells using high-pressure steaming above the fracture pressure of a formation. Wells that use cyclic steaming at lower pressures are not affected by the moratorium.
2. Rules for public health and safety protections near oil and gas extraction facilities will be updated and strengthened
Regulations to strengthen protections for public health and safety will be put in place. The intent of the rulemaking is to establish a transparent set of rules designed to protect residents and communities near oil and gas extraction sites. The rulemaking process will consider the best available science and data to inform new protective requirements. It will involve consulting with environmental and public health advocates, as well as public health authorities, including the California Department of Public Health, the California Environmental Protection Agency, and other health experts.
The first step of this process will be a series of pre-rulemaking workshops with interested parties to seek input on the best ways to protect human health through new rules. The efforts will include proactive outreach that will begin in the coming weeks to communities near oil and gas operations, oil and gas companies, and other stakeholders, including local governments, environmental leaders and advocates, as well as academics.
The rulemaking will consider a range of protective measures, including prohibiting oil and gas activities within close proximity of homes, schools, hospitals, and parks. The pre-regulatory process will begin in 2020, with new/modified rules anticipated later that year.
“We are updating rules to better ensure that public health and safety are protected as we continue the transition away from carbon extraction to a renewable energy future,” Crowfoot said.
​​​3. ​Pending applications to conduct hydraulic fracturing and other well stimulation practices will be independently reviewed
The state’s process for approving well stimulation permits has been under review by CalGEM since mid-July 2019. Moving forward, CalGEM has requested an independent audit of its permitting processes for well stimulation and underground injection control by the California Department of Finance’s Office of State Audits and Evaluations. The audit will focus on whether the current permitting processes comply with state regulations and policies and will develop recommendations to strengthen operational processes and procedures. 
While this audit is being completed in the coming months, the division is instituting a third-party scientific review of pending well stimulation permit applications to ensure the state’s technical standards for public health, safety and environmental protection are met prior to approval of each permit. The review will be conducted by independent experts from the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory.

Other recent and ongoing actions
These actions are the latest steps by Governor Newsom’s Administration to strengthen regulatory oversight of oil and gas production in California. These actions are also part of a broader state effort to manage the decline in fossil fuel production and consumption in California in a way that is economically responsible and sustainable, improves public health and safety, and protects the environment. This is in line with the state’s overall climate goals of achieving carbon neutrality by 2045.
The 2019 Budget Act appropriated $3 million in funding for two studies. One is a first-ever study to identify strategies for managing the decline in the demand and supply for fossil fuels. The second study will examine ways to significantly reduce emissions from vehicles, including transitioning to zero emission vehicles and reducing vehicle miles traveled. The California Environmental Protection Agency is developing the scope for these studies together with other state agencies and the University of California, with input gathered through a public process.
​In recent months, the Governor also has:
  • Made the state’s first major workforce investment of $165 million over five years to help enable economic transition away from dependence on fossil fuels.
  • Changed leadership overseeing oil and gas policy at CalGEM and the Department of Conservation.
  • Signed five bills to improve regulatory oversight of oil and gas extraction in the state.
  • Strongly opposed President Trump’s effort to expand oil and gas extraction on federal lands within California.
  • Initiated the most comprehensive air monitoring campaign in the country in communities located near oil and gas operations.
  • Protected the state’s clean car standards against efforts by the Trump Administration to roll back greenhouse gas emission standards that protect public health and combat climate change.
  • Supported a series of regulations and incentives directed at supporting zero emission transportation alternatives to facilitate the transition from petroleum.

​​​Contact:​​

​Public Affairs Office
email hidden; JavaScript is required
(916) 323-1886​

Gov. Newsom blocks new fracking, pending scientific review by Madeleine Brand, Nov. 20, 2019, KCRW

Governor Gavin Newsom announced another investigation this week that could set back the oil industry. He said he won’t approve any new hydraulic fracturing permits, or fracking, until scientists can review the projects.

… Earlier this week, Newsom also called for expediting the closure of the Aliso Canyon natural gas storage facility.

California Halts Hundreds of Fracking Permits in Oil Producer Crackdown by Adam Beam, Nov 19, 2019, Time.com

California Gov. Gavin Newsom cracked down on oil producers Tuesday, halting approval of hundreds of fracking permits until independent scientists can review them and temporarily banning another drilling method that regulators believe is linked to one of the largest spills in state history.

The state Division of Oil, Gas and Geothermal Resources announced it will not approve new wells that use high-pressure steam to extract oil from underground. It’s the type of process Chevron uses at an oil field in the Central Valley that leaked more than 1.3 million gallons (4.9 million liters) of oil and water this summer.

That process is different from fracking, which uses water and other chemicals at high pressure to extract oil. California has 263 pending fracking permits but has not approved any of them since July. That’s when Newsom fired California’s top oil and gas regulator after learning the state had increased fracking permits by 35% since he took office in January, angering environmental groups.

… California has been a leader on environmental issues, with Newsom’s Democratic predecessor, Jerry Brown, making climate change his signature effort. Brown was criticized for failing to ban fracking or oil drilling, arguing that the state needed to tackle demand before moving on to supply.

The oil industry called Newsom’s changes “disappointing,” with the Western States Petroleum Association saying California’s environmental regulations already lead the world. [Pfffffft, that’s what all lying propagandizing oil and gas lobby groups “say” notably when things go wrong, eg Aliso Canyon mess; Chevron’s nasty seeps/leaks/spills; companies injected their toxic frac waste into protected aquifers]

“Every barrel delayed or not produced in this state will only increase imports from more costly foreign sources that do not share our environmental safety standards,” group president Catherine Reheis-Boyd. [Pfffft, the lying oil and gas lobby groups “say” that same damn thing across Canada too]

California is one of the top five states for oil production, producing more than 161 million barrels last year. Fracking occurs in some of the state’s largest oil fields, mostly in the Central Valley.

The steam method is less prevalent but accounted for 8 million barrels of the state’s oil production in 2018, according to the Department of Conservation. But regulators believe it is linked to the oil spill at a Chevron well that began in May.

It was the largest oil spill in California since 1990, when a tanker unleashed more than 400,000 gallons (1.5 million liters) of crude oil off the coast of Huntington Beach.

But despite its size, the Chevron spill has had minimal effects on the environment. [What kind of crap reporting is this!? That’s what Chevron “says.” It’s not reality. Chevron can’t stop their seeps, many months after they started – just like the seeping bitumen mess CNRL created and can’t stop in Canada! Does Chevron have VPs on the Board of Time Magazine? ]

The oil spilled into a dry creek bed, and the company cleaned it up before rains could wash it into fresh water. [But the seeps are ongoing!] It also did not significantly harm wildlife, with just a “handful of birds” needing to be euthanized, according to Jason Marshall, chief deputy director of the California Department of Conservation.

A second well at the oil field about 35 miles (55 kilometers) west of Bakersfield has been leaking intermittently since 2003.

State officials ordered Chevron to stop the leak in April, and the company has been making progress, Marshall said. [But, have not complied with the order~!]

Regulators have fined the energy giant $2.7 million for the leaks. A Chevron spokeswoman referred comment to the Western States Petroleum Association, whose leader said, “There is nothing more important than the health and safety of the communities where the women and men of our industry work, live and raise their families.”

The moratorium will be in place while two national laboratories — Lawrence Livermore and Sandia — study the high-pressure steam process to see what regulations, if any, can make it safer. Other wells in California use the steam method and have not had any spills.

“These oil leaks cannot be the cost of doing business,” California Natural Resources Secretary Wade Crowfoot said. “There needs to be a clear trajectory to eliminate them. Not reduce them in number, but fully eliminate them.”

The moratorium will not affect existing wells, which will be assessed individually. Some existing wells have been using high-pressure steam for so long that stopping it could weaken the geology and cause more spills, Crowfoot said.

Officials said they would seek an independent audit of California’s permitting process for fracking and other types of oil extraction.

In July, advocacy groups Consumer Watchdog and FracTracker revealed the state’s fracking permits had doubled during the first six months of Newsom’s administration. The groups said that of those permits, 45% benefited companies where state officials owned stock.

Jamie Court, president of Consumer Watchdog, called Newsom’s new orders “an important step toward reining in the most high risk extraction techniques.”

“The ultimate test of his tenure for climate change and the public will be simple math about how many fewer permits are issued and how many existing wells are closed,” Court said. “Net zero wells should be his goal.”

California takes a strike at oil industry, blocks new fracking, Regulators will consult with experts to determine whether fracking can be done safely during the moratorium by Kevin Crowley, Bloomberg, 19 Nov 2019, aljazeera.com

California halted approvals of new oil wells that use high-pressure steam extraction techniques following recent leaks at a Chevron Corp. facility in Kern County.

Regulators will consult with experts to determine whether the process can be done safely during the moratorium, the state’s Department of Conservation said in a statement Tuesday. California also said it will have an independent audit of its permitting process for hydraulic fracturing and other methods of stimulating crude flows.

Shares of California Resources Corp. tumbled as much as 32% on the news while Berry Petroleum Corp., which operates in the state as well, slumped 18%.

… The Department of Conservation fined Chevron $2.7 million last month after several “surface expressions” of water, steam and oil were found at the Cymric field near Bakersfield. The leaks were likely the result of steam operations and created a “significant threat of harm to human health and the environment,” the department said.

Chevron is among companies using steam injection to help crude flow from older wells that have little natural pressure.

Representatives for Chevron and California Resources didn’t immediately comment on Tuesday.

The new regulations appear to go beyond the incident in Kern County and may spell a tougher environment for oil producers in California, which is aiming to become carbon neutral by 2045.

“This marks the turning of the tide against the oil industry” in California, said Kassie Siegel of the Center for Biological Diversity.

Fracking Under Fire In California by Nick Cunningham, Nov 20, 2019, Oilprice

California Governor Gavin Newsom just dealt a blow to the oil industry, placing a temporary moratorium on new fracking permits in the state until scientists complete an independent review of the practice.

The action also included a temporary prohibition on new permits for steam-injected oil drilling, which comes in the wake of a major oil spill at a Chevron-operated site in Kern County earlier this year. The site leaked more than 1.3 million gallons of oil and water.  

Gov. Newsom also linked the actions to a broader shift away from oil in general. “These are necessary steps to strengthen oversight of oil and gas extraction as we phase out our dependence on fossil fuels and focus on clean energy sources,” Newsom said in a statement on Tuesday. “This transition cannot happen overnight; it must advance in a deliberate way to protect people, our environment, and our economy.”

The moratorium on steam-injected drilling will remain in place until the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory and Sandia National Laboratory study the process.

“These oil leaks cannot be the cost of doing business,” California Natural Resources Secretary Wade Crowfoot said, according to the AP. “There needs to be a clear trajectory to eliminate them. Not reduce them in number, but fully eliminate them.”

Importantly, in October, Newsom singed a law that renames the state agency that oversees the industry while also tweaking its mission. The Division of Oil, Gas, and Geothermal Resources will be known as the Geologic Energy Management Division in January, and its mission will include a focus on protecting public health, safety and the environment.

Gov. Newsom came under pressure a few months ago when the Desert Sun reported that fracking permits had doubled in the first half of 2019, apparently without Newsom’s knowledge. The revelation led the governor to fire the oil regulator.

Interestingly, however, Gov. Newsom said at the time that he did not think that he had the authority to place a moratorium on fracking, something that environmental groups have long demanded. The latest actions only affect permits for new projects. According to the AP, there are 263 pending permits on the desk of regulators, but none of them have been approved since July when the top official was removed.

Reuters pointed out that shares in several California-focused oil companies tumbled following the announcement. Shares of Berry Petroleum are down by more than 35 percent since the start of the week. California Resources lost more than 25 percent on Tuesday, but was rebounding in midday trading on Wednesday.

The industry warned about the negative fallout from the new limits. “The bulk of Kern County’s new oil production will be severely impacted by this policy, as well as future capital investment by the producers,” State Senator Shannon Grove said in a statement.

California has been a major oil producer for more than a century. The 2007 movie There Will Be Blood chronicles the southern California oil boom in the late 19th Century.

… For years, environmental groups pressured former Governor Jerry Brown to ban fracking. He resisted, and instead focused his environmental efforts on other sectors, such as setting aggressive targets for carbon-free electricity. He was reluctant to take on the oil industry in such a direct way.

Gov. Newsom appeared to be following a similar track, setting ambitious climate change targets, fighting for stricter fuel economy standards (despite the watering-down of such standards at the federal level) and other measures to promote renewable energy. For much of his first year in office, he avoided taking on the oil industry as well.

But this week’s measures to put a temporary moratorium on fracking and steam-injected drilling is a new chapter, stepping up confrontation with oil drillers.

A few weeks ago, Chevron’s boss Mike Wirth made headlines when he criticized California and praised Texas. “The policies in California have become pretty restrictive on a lot of business fronts, not just the environment,” Wirth said. “I don’t know there’s a better place in the world for us to do business than” Texas and the Gulf Coast, he added.

The California-based company hasn’t decamped for the Lone Star State just yet, but it may just be a matter of time.

California Ramps up Fossil Fuel Fight With Ban on Fracking by Jordan Davidson, Nov. 20, 2019, ecowatch

California Gov. Gavin Newsom imposed new restrictions on oil exploration in his state yesterday by putting a moratorium on hundreds hydraulic fracturing permits until the projects are reviewed by independent scientists, as the AP reported.

His mandate also banned new wells from being drilled using a new method that employs a high-pressure cyclic steaming process. Regulators believe that process led to an oil leak that spilled 1.3 million gallons of oil and water in California’s Central Valley this summer, as the AP reported.

… In addition to the ban on the high-pressure cyclic steaming process, the new rules mandate that permits for hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, will undergo independent scientific review by experts at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory and the permitting process will be audited by the state Department of Finance to study compliance with state law, as NPR reported.

Furthermore, new rules will ensure public safety by “prohibiting oil and gas activities within close proximity of homes, schools, hospitals, and parks,” according to NPR.

“Governor Newsom’s historic action protects Californians from some of the most dangerous and destructive oil-extraction techniques,” said Kassie Siegel, senior counsel and director of the Center for Biological Diversity’s Climate Law Institute, in a statement, as Bloomberg reported. “This marks the turning of the tide against the oil industry, which has been allowed to drill at will in our state for more than 150 years.”

… July is also when news broke that uncontrolled spills of crude petroleum and water were happening from Chevron-owned wells near Bakersfield in Kern County. The leaks are still happening today, as NPR reported.

The state fined Chevron $2.7 million last month. The California Department of Conservation attributed the leaks to steamflooding and said they created a “significant threat of harm to human health and the environment.”

Not surprisingly, the oil industry did not agree with Newsom’s new initiatives. …

Refer also to:

CNRL reports aquifer is contaminated with BTEX 10 km from closest seepage site, How far from steam injection site?

“Newly revealed” steam injection disaster, this one by Chevron in California. About 800,000 gallons (~3 million liters) oil & water seeped into stream bed, off and on since May. CNRL seemed unable to stop their steam injection caused seep in Alberta, will Chevron be able to stop this one?

“I’m actually outraged.” With Alberta Court’s blessings, Energy giant CNRL derails full public inquiry into foreign workers’ deaths

AER Investigation Report (yes another one): CNRL’s Primrose fracking flow to surface mess and groundwater contamination “caused by excessive steam volumes, along with open conduits such as well bores, natural fractures and faults, and hydraulically induced fractures.”

More on CNRL high pressure steam injection at Primrose and the Alberta Energy Regulator caving to its funder instead of regulating

AER denies one of two CNRL applications to resume high-pressure steam injection near Cold Lake; AER keeps approving Encana’s high pressure frac fluid injection around dangerously contaminated water wells and Rosebud municipal drinking water supply

Satellite data sound alarm on safety of high pressure injection; data shows significant ground deformation (subsidence and uplift) in area of CNRL leak, 10 times faster than lower-pressure injection

Alberta regulator investigates another CNRL well leak in troubled leaking Primrose field; Cenovus spills 1300 gallons of drilling fluids at Cold Lake

Where’s the regulator? CNRL releases into formation another 7000 gallons of Crude Bitumen at Primrose, Cold lake, does not yet know how to repair the problem, or past releases

Leak at Tar Sands Project in Alberta Heightens Conservationists’ concerns; CNRL Cold Lake Bitumen Geyser Continues, Despite Company Claims

Court bars Aliso Canyon SoCalGas storage facility from reopening after massive blow out forced thousands from their homes and the “regulator” authorized reopening. When will Canada develop courts courageous enough to justly, fairly and honestly stand up to the oil & gas industry?

Oil and Gas Lobby Fights California Regulators to Keep Injecting Drilling Wastewater into Protected Aquifers

US EPA Takes Frac Deregulation to the Extreme: California and EPA Poised to Increase Oil and Gas Waste Injection into Protected Aquifers, Even as Need for Safe Groundwater Grows

California now says 2,500 wells dumping frac waste into protected aquifers, up from 532 in February. Regulators order oil drillers including Chevron Corp. and Linn Energy LLC to halt operations at 12 injection wells (two were issued cease and desist orders) because they may taint groundwater suitable for drinking and irrigation

How regulators “regulate” to make fracing safe: Let industry inject toxic frac waste into federally protected drinking water aquifers; “Levels of benzene up to 700 times federal standard have been found in waste water from fracking”

California regulators still allowing industry to inject toxic oilfield waste into drinking water aquifers, violating Safe Drinking Water Act; Companies will sue if ordered to stop. Alberta regulators break the law too, letting industry frac into drinking water aquifers, AER’s law violations even enabled by Canada’s top court

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