Under strengthened regulations effective April 1, 2019, surface expressions violate state regulations enforced by the Geologic Energy Management Division (CalGEM). A surface expression can occur when steam injected under pressure to produce oil breaks through natural geologic barriers and comes to the surface. The releases in the Cymric, Midway Sunset, and McKittrick oil fields in Kern County are not near population centers or sources of drinking water. All of the expressions are contained and are clustered in a few areas. CalGEM is collaborating with independent experts from the Lawrence Livermore and Sandia National Laboratories to investigate the expressions in the Cymric field.
Refer to the California Office of Emergency Services (CalOES) Spill Report for additional information on active surface expressions, including volumes of oil and water released.
Use "Search" to enter the incident number, for example, 19-7291 (numbers available below), for reports.
Maps of Western Kern County
StoryMap: Interactive, high-level walk through of the incident
Text in gold indicates the most recent updates.
Chevron Cymric Gauge Setting 5 Area
CalOES Spill Report 20-1575: CalGEM is reviewing Chevron's root cause analysis (submitted April 30, 2020) of an oil and water surface expression (Setting #5 03/19/20) reported from a ledge above Gauge Setting 5A on March 19, 2020. The flow ceased March 20 and reactivated March 24. It is active intermittently active. The operator drains the ongoing flow into a containment area protected with berms, netting, and beams.
CalOES Spill Report 18-2037: Began September 13, 2019. Expression inactive since September 15. Recovered volume: 1,290 barrels water and oil. Hillside vent in Gauge Setting 5-D area. Area cleaned. Containment remains in place. Seep believed to be reactivation of March 29, 2018 expression. Environmental cleanup complete and site restored.
CalOES Spill Report 19-5865: Began September 10, 2019. Expression inactive since September 18. Recovered volume: 350 barrels water and oil. Expression located in in Gauge Setting 5-C area. Expression reactivation of January 4, 2018 seep. Environmental cleanup complete and site restored.
On June 20, 2019, Chevron reported fluid volumes related to a series of surface expressions from 2018 and earlier that are being directed into the GS-5 separation plant. Since these expressions continue to flow after April 1, 2019, they are in violation of the new April 1, 2019 regulations. CalGEM sent Chevron a Notice of Violation on August 23, 2019, directing the company to stop the expressions.
Chevron Cymric McPhee 36W Area
- CalOES Spill Report 20-1649: On March 23, 2020, a new spill report was created for a surface expression from a hillside vent that initially seeped fluid from November 8-30, 2019. That incident is described in
CalOES Spill Report 19-7186. The seep reactivated on February 28, 2020. For three weeks, Chevron reported 2020 fluid data in
CalOES Spill Report 19-7186. CalGEM required Chevron to create a new spill report for what it considers a new event in 2020. The operator submitted the 20-1649 report on March 23. It captures fluid data from March 21 forward. Oily and bubbling (from gas) water continues to flow into a holding area protected by berms, nets, and beams, and recovered by vacuum truck. Chevron installed a
pipeline to transfer contained fluid to the Gauge Setting 5 collection area. The operator is working on select wells in an effort to interrupt the energy or fluid flows from potential pathways that may be feeding this surface expression and others.
CalOES Spill Report 19-7291: Incident began November 13, 2019. Expression inactive since November 14. Recovered volume: 20 barrels water and oil. Located approximately 120 feet west of March 29, 2018 expression in Gauge Setting 5-D area. Chevron posted danger signage and lights. External company monitoring for any gas emissions. Chevron notified of two vertical cracks on hillside and road above. Operator addressing. Environmental cleanup complete and site restored.
CalOES Spill Report 19-6580: Incident began October 13, 2019. Expression inactive since October 14. Recovered volume: 1,931 barrels water and oil. Hillside vent at northern end of Cymric field. Spill area cleaned; site cleanup continues.
CalOES Spill Report 19-6568: Vent found inactive October 12, 2019; reactivated with steam and fluid October 15-18; reactivated October 22, intermittently active November 1-11. Expression inactive since November 11. Recovered volume: 13,160 barrels water and oil. Located 275 feet east of CalOES Spill Report 19-6386 expression and 294 feet north of CalOES Spill Report 19-6221. Chevron contained flow; lights, danger signs, and propane cannon (to deter wildlife) installed. External company monitoring for low (thus far) gas emissions. Environmental cleanup complete and site restored.
CalOES Spill Report 19-6386: Vent found inactive October 3, 2019. Reactivated October 4. Inactive since October 5. Recovered volume: 1,160 barrels water and oil. Location is 320 feet northwest of CalOES Spill Report 19-6221 expression and CalOES Spill Report 19-5263 expression. Environmental cleanup complete and site restored.
CalOES Spill Report 19-6221: Expression began September 26, 2019. Dormant September 29; reactivated twice; expression inactive since November 18. Recovered volume: 1 barrel water and oil. Fluid contained within berm. Located approximately 180 feet northeast of CalOES Spill Report 19-5263 expression.
CalOES Splll Report 19-5407: Flow began August 21, 2019. Expression inactive since October 15. Recovered volume: 19,925 barrels water and oil. Underground injection testing continues on wells in the vicinity. Operator to complete site cleanup.
CalOES Spill Report 19-5263: Expression began June 5, 2019. Inactive since August 30. Recovered volume: 25 barrels water and oil.
Chevron Cymric 1Y Area
CalOES Spill Report 19-3668: Expression reported June 8, 2019. Ceased June 12; reactivated June 18. Release from other vent in the vicinity reported June 23. The fluid flowed into a dry streambed. All vents inactive since August 1. Recovered volume: 31,798 barrels water and oil. Per Cal Spill Watch, site cleanup completed October 11, 2019.
Order to Chevron to Pay Civil Penalty, October 2, 2019 (PDF)
Addendum(2), July 17, 2019, to 1Y Notice of Violation (PDF)
Order to Perform 1Y Remedial Work, July 12, 2019 (PDF)
- Addendum(1), July 1, 2019, to 1Y Notice of Violation (PDF)
- 1Y Notice of Violation, June 13, 2019 (PDF)
CalOES Spill Report 19-3040: Expression reported May 10, 2019. Expression inactive same day May 10. Recovered volume: 105 barrels water and oil. High energy expression near Gauge Setting 5 area. Release affected dry, seasonal streambed. Release contained and area cleaned.
Cymric McKittrick Front
CalOES Spill Report 20-2154: This surface expression was inactive from May 28, 2020 until becoming intermittently active again on June 21. It has been inactive since June 26. Cumulatively, the surface expression has produced 1,530.5 barrels of oil, 3,181 barrels of water, and 415 barrels of mud.
Sentinel Peak Resources Cymric Star Fee
CalOES Spill Report 19-5656 Reported September 1, 2019. Expression stopped same day and inactive since. Recovered volume: 10 barrels water and oil.
CalOES Spill Report 20-2763: This surface expression has been inactive since May 27, 2020. Initially reported May 24, 2020. Monitoring is ongoing. Reported volume as of June 1: 70 barrels of water, 16 barrels of oil, 1,614 barrels of mud.
Berry Petroleum Midway Sunset Southwestern
Cal OES #20-4392: A surface expression in the Berry Petroleum-operated Southwestern lease of the Midway Sunset oil field in Kern County was reported at 1 a.m. on August 15, 2020. It initially released high-energy steam. CalGEM responded to the event in the morning of August 15. A Unified Command was established on August 17, with representatives CalGEM, Department of Fish & Wildlife's Office of Spill Prevention and Response, Kern County Health, and Berry Corporation virtually meeting each day. The operator has established a perimeter safety zone around the site with restricted access, light stands, 24-hour monitoring, and gas detection equipment. The expression has been inactive since August 20, and the Unified Command response stood down on August 21.
Sentinel Peak Resources Midway Sunset Keene
- CalOES Spill Report 19-4957: Began August 1, 2019. Expression inactive as of January 15, 2020. Recovered volume: 3,790 barrels water and oil. Cleanup completed.
Began June 5, 2019. Expression inactive since June 30. Recovered volume: 29 barrels water and oil.
Sentinel Peak Resources Midway Sunset Reardon
Reported May 16, 2019. Expression stopped same day. Recovered volume: 15 barrels water and oil.
Sentinel Peak Resources McKittrick Richfield
Reported May 28, 2019. Expression stopped same day. Recovered volume: 1 barrel water and oil.