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Oil & Gas Production


Oil & Gas Production In and Offshore Santa Barbara County

Santa Barbara County has been an oil and gas producing region, including oil and gas produced off its coast, for over a century. Oil and gas production commenced in Santa Barbara County in the late-1880s, following the discovery of the Summerland oil field. In 1896, producers built piers to reach the seaward extension of the Summerland field, representing the first production of offshore oil and gas reserves.

Oil production in Santa Barbara County, including offshore production landed in the County, reached an all-time high of 68,798,091 barrels in 1995, while natural gas production reached an all-time high of 99,425,269 thousand cubic feet in 1967. The predominant focus in production has shifted from onshore and near-shore fields to fields underlying federal waters three or more miles from shore.

The following two graphs depict annual oil and gas production rates, respectively, since 1923. The State did not differentiate offshore and onshore production until 1958, coinciding with the installation of the first offshore platform in state waters (Platform Hazel). Consequently the first 35 years of production illustrated in the graphs represent combined onshore and offshore production. Also, oil and gas production in federal waters offshore Santa Barbara County commenced in 1968 from Platform Hogan offshore Carpinteria; however, this production was landed in Ventura County. Therefore, the following production graphs do not show federal Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) production commencing until 1980, when Platform Grace commenced production and sent it to processing and storage facilities at Carpinteria.

 

 

Comparison to California and U.S. Rates (Year 2000)

  • Oil/condensate and net natural gas produced in Santa Barbara County, including that produced offshore and landed in Santa Barbara County, accounted for 11.3% and 11.4% of California's total production of oil/condensate and natural gas, respectively.
  • Oil/condensate and net natural gas produced from onshore oil fields in Santa Barbara County accounted for 1% and 0.7%, respectively, of all California onshore production.
  • Oil/condensate and net natural gas produced in state tideland waters offshore Santa Barbara County accounted for 7.3% and 25.2%, respectively, of all state tideland production offshore California.
  • Oil/condensate and net natural gas produced in federal OCS waters and landed in Santa Barbara County accounted for 85.8% and 90.2%, respectively, of all federal OCS production offshore California.
  • Oil/condensate produced in federal OCS waters and landed in Santa Barbara County accounted for 5.5% and 0.8%, respectively, of all federal OCS production.
  • Oil/condensate and net natural gas produced in Santa Barbara County, including oil/condensate produced offshore and landed in Santa Barbara County, accounted for 1.7% and 0.2% of total national production of oil/condensate and natural gas, respectively.

Comparison to California and U.S. Rates (Cumulative)

  • Oil/condensate and net natural gas produced in Santa Barbara County, including that produced offshore and landed in Santa Barbara County, accounted for 8% and 7% of California's total production of oil/condensate and natural gas, respectively.
  • Oil/condensate and net natural gas produced from onshore oil fields in Santa Barbara County accounted for 5% and 3%, respectively, of all California onshore production.
  • Oil/condensate and net natural gas produced in state tideland waters offshore Santa Barbara County accounted for 10% and 40%, respectively, of all state tideland production offshore California.
  • Oil/condensate and net natural gas produced in federal OCS waters and landed in Santa Barbara County accounted for 56% and 73%, respectively, of all federal OCS production offshore California.
  • Oil/condensate and net natural gas produced in federal OCS waters and landed in Santa Barbara County accounted for 4.3% and 0.5%, respectively, of all federal OCS production.

California Demand & Supply

While California accounted for 9% of the nation's total energy consumption in 1999, it also accounted for 12% of the nation's population (2000 census), and 13% of the Gross Domestic Product (1999). California ranked 49th among the 50 states in per capita energy consumption in 1999, according to the U.S. Department of Energy.

Since 1982, Californian refiners' demand for crude oil peaked at 713 million barrels in 1989, and declining thereafter to 659 million in 1999, according to data compiled by the California Energy Commission (CEC). Although California once received significant supplies of low-sulfur oil from Indonesia, these imports were displaced by Alaska crude oil after completion of the Trans-Alaska Pipeline in 1977, and remained below 10% of annual crude oil supplies until 1996. California's refiners became a major market for Alaska's North Slope crude oil due, in large part, to strict prohibitions placed on exporting that oil to foreign countries and major retrofits undertaken by several Californian refiners to handle heavier, high-sulfur crude oil


SOURCE: California Energy Commission.
NOTE: Foreign sources are unspecified as to country in survey of refiners.

The Federal government eliminated its ban on exporting Alaska's North Slope (ANS) oil to foreign countries in 1996. Lifting of the export ban received strong support from former Governor Wilson, the California legislature, and the California Energy Commission as a means of opening markets for California production. Many of California's onshore producers shut-in wells due to continued low prices since 1985, and argued that several artificial factors depressed their prices, particularly an oversupply of ANS crude oil. However, with a few short-termed exceptions, crude oil prices have remained low, which make it difficult for many onshore producers to restart shut-in wells or finance more expensive secondary and tertiary methods of enhanced oil recovery.

The supply of oil sent from Alaska to California has since declined, from 267 thousand barrels in 1996 to 163,233 thousand barrels in 2000, due to lifting of the export ban and declining production rates of Alaska North Slope crude oil. However, California's onshore oil production only rose slightly in 1997 and then continued to decline below 1996 levels through the year 2000, mostly because the price of crude oil has not stabilized at a high enough price to sustain a recovery of onshore production.

California relied mostly on imports of natural gas from other states between 1996 and 2000, while in-state production provided an average of 16% of the state's natural gas supplies. California producers, including offshore producers, marketed about 90 billion cubic feet of natural gas more in 2000 than 1996.



Sources:

[1] CEC web-site. Data compiled from surveys of California's refiners pursuant to the Petroleum Industry Information Reporting Act of 1980.
[2]
CEC. Fuels. July, 1999, page 25.
[3]
U.S. Department of Energy. Exporting Alaskan North Slope Crude Oil. June 1994. Page 22.

 
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