Hydraulic fracturing or “fracking” could make 14 billion barrels of oil reserves in the hills and valleys beyond the Monterey County town of San Ardo accessible. The San Ardo Oil Field is a large oil field in Monterey County, California, in the United States. It is in the upper Salinas Valley, about five miles (8 km) south of the small town of San Ardo, and about twenty miles (32 km) north of Paso Robles.
Vegetation in the oil field area varies from riparian in the immediate vicinity of the Salinas River, to grassland, chaparral, and oak woodland in the hills and uplands, although much of the vegetation has been removed in the central area of active operations.
Land immediately north of the oil field in the Salinas River Valley is agricultural, while other adjacent land, which is mostly hilly, is predominantly used for livestock grazing. The San Ardo Oil Field is the farthest north of the major oil fields west of the San Andreas Fault in California; most of the other large fields are east of the fault. As is common with California oil fields, the San Ardo Field is an anticlinal structure.
The productive units are the Aurignac Sands, which are a portion of the huge Monterey Formation , a sedimentary rock unit which underlies much of coastal California.
All of the productive units are of Miocene age, and the underlying basement rocks date to the Jurassic period. The Los Lobos thrust fault complex demarcates the western boundary of the field. Initial production from the discovery well was barrels per day Since the oil is heavy crude, with API gravity of only in the Lombardi Sands and 13 in the Aurignac, getting it to flow to production wells can be difficult.
Various enhanced recovery technologies developed during the s and s have made the process easier. Steam flooding is the technology of choice in the San Ardo Field; injection wells force steam into the ground to heat the crude and decrease its viscosity , and if strategically placed, can push the oil to nearby production wells.
Steam flooding has been used in both the Aurignac and Lombardi sands since ; water flooding is also being used in the Aurignac. The peak production from the field was in , the first year in which both productive units were subject to steam flooding.
Standup oil wells are nothing new for ranchers in southern Monterey County. The area is home to the San Ardo oil fields, where companies such as Chevron have been pumping for 60 years. New technology could allow the drilling to expand to places where oil lies much deeper, in an area known as the Monterey Shale.
He said shale oil is harder to harvest because an oil drill needs to go down and then out horizontally using the controversial technique hydraulic fracturing. Vagnini said companies have to record the mineral rights transfer with the county.
Cattle land is considered oil land in southern Monterey County and Mary Orradre likes it that way. Under the fields where her cows range, there is an abundance of oil, which is a constant source of revenue that helps keep her ranch going.
Oil companies do not reveal how much they pay landowners. It takes at least one million gallons of water to frack a single well. According to the industry, the water gets recycled and there has never been a case of groundwater contamination from fracking in California, but Getzelman remains hesitant.
While Orradre owns the oil under her land, many landowners do not. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. You are commenting using your Twitter account. You are commenting using your Facebook account.
About 25, acre-feet of produced water is used for beneficial use in the San Ardo, Cawelo, and Arvin water districts, he said.
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