State oil regulators issue $2.7M fine on Chevron for leaks near McKittrick

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California oil and gas regulators have issued a penalty of more than $2.7 million to Chevron due to violations that led to oil leaks at the Cymric Oil Field.

The state Department of Conservation (DOC) said the violations stem from Chevron’s steam injection work in the McKittrick area that led to leaks on at least four occasions between May 10 and July 22 into a 41,947-square-feet dry streambed. 

These operations, called “surface expressions” are illegal under new regulations adopted in April by the department’s Division of Oil, Gas and Geothermal Resources (DOGGR). 

The penalty order said these operations created “a significant threat of harm to human health and the environment.” The goal of the penalty is to ensure Chevron doesn’t receive any economic benefit from the violations, the DOC said.

In a statement, Chevron confirmed they have received the state’s penalty order and are reviewing it. 

“Chevron takes very seriously its responsibility to operate safely and in a manner that is protective of public health, the communities where we operate, and the environment. We have made significant progress working with Unified Command to clean up the impacted area, which is nearly complete. It remains our operational goal to prevent seeps consistent with DOGGR’s updated regulations, and we continue to work closely with regulators to address any seeps that occur,” the corporation said. 

According to the order, the illegal operations enabled Chevron to sell about 7,129 barrels of oil, with an estimated value of nearly $400,000. 

The DOC didn’t specify how long Chevron has to pay the fines. The money will go into an Oil and Gas Environmental Remediation account aimed at helping address the impacts of illegal oil and gas operations.

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