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Company plans drilling for oil
Price makes drilling a viable option
If the price is right, drill.
With the price of local crude running about $100 a barrel, it is feasible to drill even in the less than mother lode of oil reserves Tulare County.
Don Rogers, owner of Smilodon Oil Company, a very small company, has gotten approval from the Tulare County Planning Commission to drill a new oil well in the Deer Creek Field between Porterville and Terra Bella. Dana Mettlen with the Tulare County planning department, said it is only the second permit for oil drilling she has seen in the “past five or six years.”
Yet, Rogers said the price is right and there is oil to be found in the small field.
The Deer Creek Field runs approximately four or five miles from about Road 136 to Road 100. It is only about a mile wide but within that space there are scores of wells, some dry and many pumping a little bit of crude each day.
There is also the Terra Bella Field. According to the California Department of Conservation, the majority of the producing wells are on both sides of Deer Creek just east of Orange Belt Drive.
According to Tulare County Assessor Roland Hill, the county produced nearly 10,000 barrels of crude in the 2011-12 fiscal year, not very much when compared to our neighboring county, Kern, but an amount enough to make drilling a new well worth the while. Hill said the county assessed 81 active wells last year.
Rogers, a retired geologist who once worked for Standard Oil, said the wells between Terra Bella and Porterville have been “producing for more than 50 years.” He said his new well will help “to more efficiently drain the existing oil reservoir.”
Drilling for oil locally is not nearly as expensive as other parts of the Valley. Rogers said the new hole will only be about 750 feet deep, requiring a much smaller drilling rig than used on the big wells in Kern County that can be as deep as 10,000 feet. He said it should only take a few days to drill and he hopes to be done drilling by around the first of April.
Rogers said you get more water than oil out of the wells. The water and oil are heated to separate the two, then the water can be used for irrigation and the oil is sent by truck to refineries in Kern County.
Rogers said the quality of oil in the Deer Creek Field is actually better than some found in Kern County, allowing them to catch a better price for the crude.
He called them “stripper wells” because of the water that needs to be stripped out.
Most oil wells in this area are about 700 to 1,000 feet deep.
Hill said they had 14 different assessments of well owners and for 2011-12 the assessed value of the mineral rights of the wells was $9 million. The assessor’s records showed some wells producing more than a barrel a day, others less than a barrel in a day.
California ranks fourth in the nation in crude oil production, but Tulare County is not even a blip on the map when it comes to oil. Kern County produces 77 percent of the state’s inland oil and with the Monterey Shale field in western Kern County reportedly to be one of the biggest oil fields around, that percentage could go even higher.