Bakersfield California OIL

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Updated: 9 years 44 weeks ago

Lawmakers act on fracking, safety of oil transport

Thu, 05/29/2014 - 17:52

The state Senate is moving to prepare for accidental spills and explosions as more oil is shipped into California by rail but has rejected a moratorium on fracking, the contentious method for extracting oil.

Lawmakers on Wednesday approved SB 1319 in response to a series of damaging oil spills from rail cars in other states and Canada. The bill would expand the state's existing oil spill prevention program, traditionally aimed at oil tanker ships and pipeline spills, to include rail disasters.

County defers to feds on oil-by-rail safety impacts

Sun, 05/25/2014 - 17:27

County planners studying an oil-by-rail terminal proposed along Rosedale Highway have determined the project could threaten public safety in the event of a train-related spill but that they lack the regulatory authority to fully address them.

In a draft environmental review released Thursday, the Kern County Planning and Community Development Department spelled out various concerns -- including possible impacts on air and water quality and biological resources -- regarding Alon USA Energy Inc.'s plans to build a facility that would offload mile-long oil trains, two per day, at its refinery on Rosedale.

Estimate of recoverable Monterey Shale oil slashed

Thu, 05/22/2014 - 16:15

The amount of oil that can be recovered from California's sprawling Monterey Shale formation using existing technology is far less than thought, according to a new federal estimate that potentially deals a blow to oil companies looking to extract the resource.

About 600 million barrels of oil can be tapped from the formation, the Los Angeles Times reported, citing data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

Kern oilmen unfazed by reassessment of Monterey Shale

Thu, 05/22/2014 - 16:14

It won’t cause an exodus from Kern County oil fields, but a lowering of federal expectations for petroleum production along California’s vaunted Monterey Shale may change the state’s fracking debate, which could add to its local repercussions.

Kern oilmen familiar with the difficulties of tapping the giant “source rock” underlying much of the southern Central Valley were unfazed by a report Wednesday that the U.S. Energy Information Administration believes the Monterey contains 96 percent less recoverable oil than it previously estimated.

Feds slash Monterey Shale estimate by 96 percent

Wed, 05/21/2014 - 18:50

Short of a technological breakthrough, the vaunted Monterey Shale oil formation underlying much of the southern Central Valley will yield no more than about 600 million barrels, or 96 percent less than previously believed, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

The lower estimate, reported Wednesday by the Los Angeles Times, could be a big disappointment to Kern County's oil industry, which in recent years has attracted large investments from companies anxious to tap what the EIA had said was nearly 14 billion barrels of California shale oil.

Projects would boost crude shipments to Kern

Sun, 05/18/2014 - 03:59

Dallas-based Alon USA Energy Inc. has proposed an oil car offloading facility at the company's Rosedale Highway refinery.

A similar facility by Houston-based Plains All American Pipeline LP is under construction near Taft.

A patchwork of agencies responsible for oil train safety

Sun, 05/18/2014 - 03:59

Because oil shipments from North Dakota to California qualify as interstate commerce, primary oversight responsibility falls to the federal government. But in practice, many state and local agencies also have a hand in preventing, preparing for or responding to oil spill accidents.

Here's a look at some of the government agencies most prominently involved:

Recent rail accidents involving light crude oil

Sun, 05/18/2014 - 03:59

A series of recent derailments have raised concerns about the risks of shipping oil in mile-long "unit trains," especially highly combustible light crude from the Bakken shale formation in and around North Dakota.

Here are some recent accidents involving shipments of Bakken crude:

Increased oil train traffic raises potential for safety challenges

Sun, 05/18/2014 - 03:59

First responders think of the rail yard by Bakersfield High School when they envision the worst-case scenario in Kern County's drive to become a major destination for Midwestern oil trains.

If a derailment there punctures and ignites a string of tank cars, the fireball's heat will be felt a mile away and flames will be a hundred feet high. Thick acrid black smoke will cover an area from downtown to Valley Plaza mall. Burning oil will flow through storm drains and sewers, possibly shooting flames up through manholes.

Technical problems turn film screening into fracking debate

Sun, 05/04/2014 - 15:21

The film screening inside a Bakersfield church hall was never intended to be a community forum about fracking.

But because of one technical problem after another, and a few restive oil and gas industry people in the audience, there was almost no avoiding it.

Environmentalists say state has withheld required fracking information

Thu, 05/01/2014 - 17:18

A prominent environmental group accused state oil regulators Wednesday of failing to comply with public disclosure rules contained in an interim version of California's new fracking law.

The accusations are part of the Center for Biological Diversity's efforts to build support for a proposed fracking moratorium that on Wednesday cleared the state Senate Environmental Quality Committee. The legislation, Senate Bill 1132, would disproportionately impact Kern, by far California's top oil-producing county.

New fracking rules lead to confusion, layoffs

Sat, 03/29/2014 - 02:03

Permitting delays related to California's new hydraulic fracturing law are taking a toll on Kern County oil field employment.

Oil services giant Baker Hughes Inc. said Friday it is laying off or reassigning 110 workers in Bakersfield, Shafter and the Los Angeles Basin -- a modest but significant share of its California workforce, a company manager said -- because of delays its customers face in getting approval to "frack" wells under Senate Bill 4.

Study warns of oil activity-induced earthquakes

Fri, 03/14/2014 - 00:38

Environmental groups released a report Thursday intended to return public attention to earthquake risks associated with underground injection activity in oilfields near Bakersfield and other California population centers.

Without pointing to any seismic activity caused by hydraulic fracturing, acidization or wastewater disposal in the state, the report sounds an alarm that these operations pose special dangers in California because they often take place near earthquake faults.

New bill resurrects old oil tax idea

Thu, 02/20/2014 - 03:37

Almost every year a politician in Sacramento proposes a new tax on California oil production. And every time -- so far -- it goes down in defeat.

State Sen. Noreen Evans believes this year is going to be different.

State appoints new top regulator over local oilfields

Thu, 02/20/2014 - 01:40

A geologist with experience overseeing underground injection work in Bakersfield oilfields has been appointed Kern County's top oil regulator.

When he reports to work May 1, Dan Wermiel, 61, will become the third man since 2011 to lead the district that produces more than 70 percent of the state's oil. His salary will be $9,806 per month.

Oxy moving ahead with California spinoff

Fri, 02/14/2014 - 22:11

Occidental Petroleum Corp. would have a freer hand to develop its substantial Kern County assets under plans announced Friday to spin off the company’s California operations.

The move set for completion by early next year addresses analysts’ concerns that Oxy has been spending too much money on its California operations and not getting enough return on that investment.