Chevron: McKittrick oil field seep has been flowing since 2003; State launches probe

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Less than four months after an oil seep was discovered at the Cymric Chevron oil field in McKittrick, Chevron confirmed with KGET-TV 17 Tuesday another seep has been occurring at the field for more than 15 years.

Since 2003, roughly two million barrels, or 84 million gallons, of oil and water have flowed to the surface from the seep, a Chevron spokesperson confirmed.

A seep is when oil flows out of the ground, sometimes naturally and sometimes due to drilling.

Specifically, the surface expression, as it is called, from 2003, is taking place in an area chevron has named Gauge Setting 5 (GS-5), which is located roughly 1,500 feet from the seep that was discovered in May. The May seep resulted in the leak of 31,903 barrels of fluid, of which 70 percent is water, according to Chevron.

The California Department of Oil and Gas, and Geothermal Resources (DOGGR) served Chevron with a notice of violation last Friday, saying in a statement, DOGGR is “exploring swift next steps to evaluate and investigate the oil field as a whole.

Chevron released a statement maintaining the seep has not impacted groundwater, wildlife, or agriculture, adding “the seep is contained.”

Chevron’s full statement:

Gauge Setting 5 (GS-5) is a geographic reference to an active seep in the Cymric field that originated in 2003. We collect the fluid from that seep into an engineered surface collection facility and then remove it by either pumping into a pipeline or vacuum truck for safe processing and handling. To date, roughly over 2 million barrels of water and oil have come to surface. Over the years, the appropriate regulatory agencies have been consulted regarding the seep and have been involved at all steps of the processing and handling of GS-5 fluids. Chevron is cooperating with the regulators and has a dedicated team in place conducting a thorough review of GS-5 to determine next steps. I’d like to emphasize:

  • This event has not resulted in any injuries to personnel, nor have they had any impact to groundwater, surface water, wildlife or agriculture.
  • The seep is contained.
  • This was reported to the appropriate regulatory agencies and we continue to work collaboratively to manage the event.
  • We are committed to stopping these seeps in accordance with all regulatory requirements.

Environmentalist Tom Frantz, president of the Association of Irritated Residents, and member of the local Sierra Club chapter, said he is not convinced.

“There’s not necessarily good groundwater right where the leak is, but anything traveling in the sub-surface travels by gravity down the stream-bed down that path,” Frantz, who has flown drones above the site, said. “At the end of the path we have farm land, and under that farmland, we have groundwater that farmers are using, so there’s the potential for a lot of contamination over time,” he continued.

Tom Frantz, president of the Association of Irritated Residents, and member of the local Sierra Club chapter

“There’s not necessarily good groundwater right where the leak is, but anything traveling in the sub-surface travels by gravity down the stream-bed down that path,” Frantz, who has flown drones above the site, said. “At the end of the path we have farm land, and under that farmland, we have groundwater that farmers are using, so there’s the potential for a lot of contamination over time,” he continued.

However, Chad Hathaway, owner and CEO of the independent oil company Hathaway LLC, said it is important to remember thousands of seeps are taking place across the state, many of them naturally.

“I don’t think any threat exists to the environment due to this particular instance right now,” he said. “There’s thousands of seeps throughout the state of California, onshore and offshore. If you go to the beach, and especially around Santa Barbara in the channel there, you’ll walk off the beach and you’ll have oil on your feet because the oil is seeping naturally from the ocean bed every single day, every single second of the day. oil seeping naturally every second of the day. So if people think seeps are a new and interesting phenomena, they’re not; they’ve been going on for thousands and thousands of years. ”

Chad Hathaway, owner and CEO of the independent oil company Hathaway LLC

Chevron did not comment specifically on plans to fix or clean up the seep, but a representative said chevron has a “dedicated team in place conducting a thorough review to determine next steps.”

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