Stop 750+ Oil Wells:

The Companies & The Oil

The 750+ new oil wells are being proposed by 3 different companies – ERG, Aera, and Petro Rock. These wells would drill through the Santa Maria Valley Groundwater Basin which provides drinking water to  more than 12 cities, including Santa Maria, Orcutt, and Guadalupe, thousands of businesses, our local wine industry, and hundreds of square miles of agriculture – totalling over 200,000 people. All proposed projects would use cyclic steam injection techniques to extract oil (and in some cases gas). Cyclic steam injection, or “steam fracking”, is a technique in which steam is pumped underground to reduce the viscosity of oil so that it can be pumped more easily. This requires a lot of freshwater resources (for the steam) and incredible energy intensity (to produce the steam).

We’re working with our coalition partners – including Food and Water Watch, Santa Barbara Standing Rock Coalition, Safe Energy Now, and Sierra Club – to ensure these projects are stopped before they can further wreck our climate and water.


About the Companies: 

ERG: The Texas-based ERG Operating Company is proposing to drill more than 230 new steam injection wells. The project would build 11 new drilling pads, expand 91 current pads, and require nine processing facilities and equipment areas. ERG is in currently in bankruptcy and trying to sell off its California operations, including the proposed Cat Canyon project. The outcome of this reorganization would impact whether ERG or another company follows through on the current drilling proposal. For more information, visit the County’s Planning and Development Page:

AERA: Aera (owned by Shell and ExxonMobil) is proposing to drill 296 new oil wells. The company would use the energy-intensive practices of cyclic steam injection — also known as “steam fracking”— to extract up to 10,000 barrels of oil per day. For more information, visit the County’s Planning and Development Page:

PetroRock: PetroRock, the third company, is proposing to drill 230 new cyclic steam injection wells in Cat Canyon. For more information, visit the County’s Planning and Development Page:

Finally, if you want to learn even more about the projects, you can listen to this 30 minute segment on the 750+ proposed oil wells.

About the Oil:

Because of the properties of the oil itself, coupled with the the extraction and refining methods necessary to produce it, California oil in general has a higher greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions potential, making it some of the dirtiest oil in the country. The same is true for Santa Barbara County – this isn’t fast-flowing “sweet crude”; the thickness of the oil found in Santa Barbara County requires more emissions-intensive techniques for extraction. The oil that would be extracted from the three new proposed projects in Santa Barbara county is more like the Canadian tar sands – an oil-deposit that has been labelled “game over” for the climate – than the lighter crude that was extracted here in the past.  The oil that one of the companies, AERA, is hoping to extract is so heavy that lighter crude will need to be trucked from Bakersfield to mix with the heavier oil before it can be sent back to Bakersfield for refining. The process would take about 30,000 total truck miles per day, aggravating air pollution and traffic and contributing even more carbon emissions.

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