Los Angeles Controller Ron Galperin recently released a review of the 1,000 or so active and idle oil and gas wells within the city, along with a call for an extraction tax to fund increased inspections, bolster safety and health requirements.
Galperin also called higher standards for well operators to increase levels of liability insurance and surety bonds to ensure that taxpayers’ interests are protected.
The review, delivered to the office of Mayor Eric Garcetti on June 27, calls for city officials to develop plans for more frequent inspections of the 780 active and 287 idle wells.
Galperin’s review also called for a system of accountability for the 4,063 wells that are plugged and abandoned or buried within the city limits – an effort that would be driven by a data base as a “centralized repository of interagency and interdepartmental information, with well owners and operators responsible for providing regular updates.
The State of California’s Department of Conservation’s Division of Oil, Gas, and Geothermal Resources also tracks the more than 5,000 known wells in the city of Los Angeles. A report by the agency in March reported the status of those wells as follows:
“DOGGR data indicates that a small group of companies are responsible for ongoing oil and gas extraction; approximately 77% of active and idle wells in the city are operated by six companies. This group is comprised of the following companies: Warren E&P (224 wells); Freeport-McMoRan Oil & Gas (217 wells); Tidelands Oil Production Co. (183 wells); Southern California Gas Co. (78 wells); Pacific Coast Energy Co. (59 wells); and Brea Canon Oil Co. (57 wells).”
Plugged and abandoned wells have been sealed with cement using techniques outlined by the state, according to the City Controller’s review.
“Buried wells are typically older and are not abandoned to current standards and the mapped locations of these wells are sometimes approximate,” according to the review.
It is up to the City Council to decide whether to act on any of the major recommendations in Galperin’s review.
– Howard Fine, Jerry Sullivan
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