A California Trend for Independence

More than a few years of my life were marked by frequent excursions into Southern California, including working in some of the world's most beautiful landscapes in the mountains and the on the coast.  But vast areas in the '60s and '70s were dominated by the 'mechanical mosquitoes' of oil well pumps that seemed to stretch to the horizon.  These independent wells were then systematically shut down in the 80s by 'tract houses, mini—malls, and pesky environmentalists.'

Believe it or not, a comeback  is in the offing for these long—ago abandoned wells in Southern California.  Thanks to rising oil prices and new technology, many of these capped wells are being pressed back into service.  Before, old wells were paved over or housing developments engulfed productive drilling land.  According to Rich Baker of the Southern California Division of Oil, Gas, and Geothermal Resources,

If crude prices spiral high enough, "it might get to the point where people start tearing down houses to drill for oil."

Not only that, but Baker estimates that 'there is still a lot of oil left.'  Iraj Ershagi, director of the petroleum engineering program at the University of Southern California, said that the 3,000 abandoned California wells might drop to zero as all of the inactive pumps are pressed into service.

A large part of the resurgence of 'urban' oil derricks is due to advancements in technology that allow for nearly silent operation.  In Signal Hill, oil rigs drill behind backyards, next to a Starbucks, in public parks and on the edge of a cemetery.  Meanwhile, Huntington Beach City Hall has three drills in the parking lot.

Has a dose of reality finally hit some enterprising free—marketers in California?  Let's hope so.  And by the way, let's hope Arnold and the enviro—whackos don't read the Los Angeles Times business section too closely.

Doug Hanson  01—10—06

More than a few years of my life were marked by frequent excursions into Southern California, including working in some of the world's most beautiful landscapes in the mountains and the on the coast.  But vast areas in the '60s and '70s were dominated by the 'mechanical mosquitoes' of oil well pumps that seemed to stretch to the horizon.  These independent wells were then systematically shut down in the 80s by 'tract houses, mini—malls, and pesky environmentalists.'

Believe it or not, a comeback  is in the offing for these long—ago abandoned wells in Southern California.  Thanks to rising oil prices and new technology, many of these capped wells are being pressed back into service.  Before, old wells were paved over or housing developments engulfed productive drilling land.  According to Rich Baker of the Southern California Division of Oil, Gas, and Geothermal Resources,

If crude prices spiral high enough, "it might get to the point where people start tearing down houses to drill for oil."

Not only that, but Baker estimates that 'there is still a lot of oil left.'  Iraj Ershagi, director of the petroleum engineering program at the University of Southern California, said that the 3,000 abandoned California wells might drop to zero as all of the inactive pumps are pressed into service.

A large part of the resurgence of 'urban' oil derricks is due to advancements in technology that allow for nearly silent operation.  In Signal Hill, oil rigs drill behind backyards, next to a Starbucks, in public parks and on the edge of a cemetery.  Meanwhile, Huntington Beach City Hall has three drills in the parking lot.

Has a dose of reality finally hit some enterprising free—marketers in California?  Let's hope so.  And by the way, let's hope Arnold and the enviro—whackos don't read the Los Angeles Times business section too closely.

Doug Hanson  01—10—06