Big Oil's black mark on California's climate record

Big Oil's black mark on California's climate record

The Center for Public Integrity |
September 13, 2018

The state’s oil regulator has the dual burden of facilitating oil development while protecting the environment and public health. Can it do both?

Almost everything in Orcutt, California, feels like a testament to its origins as a 20th century oil boomtown — not least its name. William Warren Orcutt, a pioneer of petroleum geology and the man who helped Union Oil strike it big in the Golden State, founded the town in 1904.

The industry has changed drastically since Orcutt's day, when oil crews operating there famously discovered one of the area's — and indeed the world's — most productive wells by pure happenstance. After heavy equipment fell off the back of a wagon, the workers, not wanting to go through the trouble of lugging everything back on the vehicle, decided to set up shop on that fortuitous patch of land. The well, affectionately known as Old Maud, continued to produce oil all the way until 1988. By then, the oil industry had embraced a slew of more modern, "enhanced oil recovery" techniques — namely cyclic steaming, in which steam is pumped through wells at high pressures to heat and liquefy thick oil; and acid matrix stimulation, in which acid is injected into underground formations to dissolve sediment and mud.

Credit by - The Center for Public Integrity

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