The Division of Oil, Gas, and Geothermal Resources (DOGGR) continues to address a release known as a "surface expression" of oil and water in a dry streambed in the Cymric oil field located in Kern County. This kind of discharge can occur when steam injected under pressure to produce oil breaks through natural geologic barriers to the surface. A seepage was first reported on May 10 and there have been several intermittent flows since then.
Unified Command, comprised of DOGGR, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife's Office of Spill Prevention and Response, Kern County Public Health Services Department, and Chevron USA, Inc. (the oil field operator), are reporting on the status of the oil spill and clean-up. The Department of Conservation is collaborating with technical experts from Sandia, Lawrence Berkeley, and Lawrence Livermore Laboratories in the evaluation of the Root Cause Analysis of the surface expression.
Unified Command Cymric Surface Expression Updates
Cal Spill Watch
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An earthen dam is containing the seepages. A combination of shutting in nearby injection wells and activating idled production wells to ease pressure on the formation appears to help stem the flow. Chevron deployed loud air cannons to keep wildlife away.
Vacuum trucks are removing the pooled oil and water and excavators are removing the contaminated soil.
There are no reported injuries or threats to drinking water or to waters of current or future beneficial use at this time. The surface expression is located about 3.5 miles from the town of McKittrick and about 6 miles from the nearest farm. The incident is about 35 miles west of Bakersfield.
Acting State Supervisor of Oil and Gas Jason Marshall (in black shirt) and Chevron staff overlook site of Cymric surface expression in Kern County. On July 17, 2019, DOGGR inspectors reported a small oil and water release at the location of a previous seep.
DOGGR geologic engineers, DOGGR Inland District Deputy Cameron Campbell (in yellow hard hat), Acting State Supervisor of Oil and Gas Jason Marshall (in black shirt) and Chevron personnel discuss the Cymric surface expression in Kern County, July 19, 2019.
DOGGR inspectors responded immediately to the site and engaged with the operator on their efforts to remediate the damaged, abandoned well believed to have triggered the seeping. DOGGR issued a Notice of Violation (NOV) to the operator on May 20; sent a second NOV on June 13; and updated the NOVs with Addendums dated July 1 and July 17.
Acting Oil and Gas Supervisor Jason Marshall took escalating action on Friday, July 12, 2019, in a
formal Order directing Chevron to do the following:
1. Immediately take all measures necessary to stop any flow from surface expressions and prevent any new surface expressions near the current expression.
2. Within 10 days, engage in a technical meeting with DOGGR staff to provide data about the Cymric oil field subsurface with the goal of establishing programs and protocols to prevent future expressions.
3. Submit data to validate the initial root-cause analysis of the surface expression Chevron performed and presented to DOGGR on June 20.
4. Include necessary data to re-evaluate three existing underground injection projects in and around the surface expression.
5. Provide specified geologic data and results from monitoring systems Chevron claims to use for prevention of surface expressions.
Notice of Violation
- Addendum(2), July 17, 2019, to Notice of Violation
- Addendum(1), July 1, 2019, to Notice of Violation
- Notice of Violation, June 13, 2019
- Notice of Violation, May 20, 2019
Cal OES Reports