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Carp Bluff Oil Well Cleanup

ConocoPhillips Working to Seal Up 1929 Well


Thursday, December 6, 2012
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For years, people who frequent the Carpinteria Bluffs have been wondering what the bubbling oily patch in the grass was near the train tracks along the path toward the seal rookery overlook. So in September 2011, the City of Carpinteria’s parks director, Matt Roberts, contacted the state Department of Conservation, which investigated the site and, according to the department’s Donald Drysdale, “made the determination that the oil seepage was likely from a well.”

That well, it turns out, was named after Catherine “Kittie” Bailard, who was born into one of the city’s pioneering families in 1893 but never saw her namesake well give way to any gusher. Drilled by Continental Oil in 1929, the Kittie Bailard Well was shut down that same year, with no black gold in sight. But back then, shutting down a well was sometimes as primitive as jamming wooden electric poles down the hole, explained Drysdale, so it’s no big mystery as to why Kittie’s oil eventually started bubbling up.

By the time the seepage showed up, though, Continental was no longer. Once part of John D. Rockefeller’s Standard Oil, it was split off as part of an antitrust ruling and later was swallowed up — along with the Kittie Bailard Well, among thousands of other old sites — by ConocoPhillips. After determining ownership, Drysdale contacted the Houston-based corporation about the seepage, and the company then made the necessary cleanup arrangements with the city, including getting archaeological clearance due to the well-known Chumash history of the area.

Today, there is fencing around the area, and a sealing-up project is underway, with crews from ATC Associates and MMI Service on-site last week and the state’s Division of Oil, Gas, and Geothermal Resources overseeing the project to seal off the well. Drysdale estimated that the work is costing ConocoPhillips about a million dollars but that most abatement projects of this type usually cost “several hundred thousand.”

Workers will be at the site between the hours of 7 a.m. and 5 p.m. ConocoPhillips is planning to use air-monitoring devices, but as an apparent precaution, MMI Services has also closed off the immediate area and put up signs warning potential trespassers that, if they go into the space, they risk hydrogen sulfide gas exposure.

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"For years, people who frequent the Carpinteria Bluffs have been wondering what the bubbling oily patch in the grass was"

I think most people figured out it was oil. If they didn't initially, they did when it got on their shoes.

Ken_Volok (anonymous profile)
December 6, 2012 at 11:27 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Heaven forbid we should try to turn that messy oil into something useful. Instead we just plug up the hole. Folks wonder why we have to import our oil instead of using our own natural resources.

raygold (anonymous profile)
December 6, 2012 at 11:50 a.m. (Suggest removal)

"because the United States is not only producing more crude oil but also using less of it. As a result, net oil imports have dropped a third since 2005."

Heaven forbid that it is not known that US exports are expected to continue to grow to rival Saudi Arabia.

"The statistics reflect the growing role of the U.S. as a dominant energy producer. Last month, the International Energy Agency said the U.S. could overtake Saudi Arabia and Russia to become the world's largest oil producer by 2020."

tabatha (anonymous profile)
December 6, 2012 at 12:12 p.m. (Suggest removal)

We are still importing billions of dollars worth of crude because of not being able to exploit our vast domestic resources because of the political vagaries of those currently in office. That is a fact.

raygold (anonymous profile)
December 6, 2012 at 12:55 p.m. (Suggest removal)

"vagaries" is an odd word choice for the point you attempt to make, "raygold," but I'll accept your apparent premise:

What you overlook is decades-long public resistance and caution in hastily accessing whatever oil and gas reserves may be in play. Especially when that liquid gold needs to come from their backyards. Talk to the Gulf coast states recently victimized by BP criminality.

"Drill baby drill!" may be a catchy chant at rallys and conventions, but it's not public policy or even popular public will.

binky (anonymous profile)
December 6, 2012 at 2:06 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Being originally from the Gulf Coast and still frequent visitor to see family I can assure you that most of those in the area still want energy independence for our country by way of developing our natural resources. There is not any resistance in the Southwest particularly Louisiana and Texas, 2 states that I am intimately familiar. I do not accept the premise that the development is being done hastily. The energy business in these states not only help our country's balance of payments deficit but is the reason there are lots of highly paid jobs provided by the petroleum industry.

raygold (anonymous profile)
December 6, 2012 at 2:47 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Louisiana is in the Southwest. Who knew?

SezMe (anonymous profile)
December 7, 2012 at 3:50 a.m. (Suggest removal)

"That well, it turns out, was named after Catherine “Kittie” Bailard, who was born into one of the city’s pioneering families in 1893 but never saw her namesake well give way to any gusher."

Victorian...

loonpt (anonymous profile)
December 7, 2012 at 9:56 a.m. (Suggest removal)

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