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FracFree Mendocino And California Coastal Agricultural Counties
by Tomas DiFiore
Wednesday Feb 26th, 2014 8:55 AM
Conventional exploration and production methods, particularly those preceding the 1980's technological advancements in electronic logging of well data and cores, gave the gamble of drilling a producing well - a well known moniker, “I'd rather be lucky than smart”. Even advancements in 2-D imagery of potential deposits of oil and gas left behind a lot of dry holes. Through advancements with 3-D sub-strata imaging of vast geologic regions within the last decade the guesswork is now minimized. Lease and Lien might become a rural county impact as new oil and gas development loans come due and well production costs exceed revenue. As the first few years of the 'Shale Boom' have shown, impacts, may take a while to fully show themselves.
Conventional exploration and production methods, particularly those preceding the 1980's technological advancements in electronic logging of well data and cores, gave the gamble of drilling a producing well - a well known moniker, “I'd rather be lucky than smart”. Even advancements in 2-D imagery of potential deposits of oil and gas left behind a lot of dry holes. Through advancements with 3-D sub-strata imaging of vast geologic regions within the last decade the guesswork is now minimized.

IMAGE: FROM: “Drilling California: A Reality Check on the Monterey Shale” December 2013 by J. David Hughes

Conventional Shows, Unconventional Production

The once conventional 'exploration and production' of hydrocarbons in the inland Franciscan Shales of Mendocino, Lake and Humboldt Counties, using the determining factors of economic recovery and available technology, left behind shallow wells (by today's standards) many of which were plugged as dry holes, wells with low production volumes, were also plugged. Shut-in wells cannot produce gas at their existing depths and are sealed off in order to maintain the pressure on remaining deposits.

Records show flows of gas, and of oil along the 101 corridor east of Willits, and around Ukiah, south of 128 near Boonville and also further south. While past well data are usually from exploration wells, or conventional reservoir production wells, these 'conventional reservoirs' are usually associated with locations that are suitable for recovery of unconventional resources.

“Large sparsely drilled areas are likely to have more undiscovered accumulations than small sparsely drilled areas of similar geology, geologic history, and exploration intensity.”

“A Township or Section (numbered sectors) with exploratory wells but no discovered accumulations is unlikely to have any undiscovered accumulations. This is probably true for sectors with several unsuccessful wells that drilled deep enough to penetrate economic basement. However, it may not be true for sectors that have been tested by only one well if that well was located along one edge or near a comer of the sector, was too shallow to test the entire thickness of prospective strata, or was improperly tested or completed.” (USGS)

While it can be shown that there is no active production of conventional resources in Mendocino County, any recent exploratory well locations are confidential. Thus the potential for both horizontal or slant deviant drilling and multiple wells per pad combined with hydraulic fracturing in Mendocino County at some point in the future cannot be entirely ruled out. Technically feasible and economically viable approaches may be discovered by the oil industry to tap the tight-gas and shale oil potential in the Franciscan formations, and producing interests could shift from the mature oil-rich resource areas in southern California and the un-associated oil or gas-yielding formations in other parts of the State (to the north and northwest including Humboldt, Mendocino, Sonoma, Lake, Glen, Tehama, and Butte Counties).

It cannot be ignored, that the wells in northern coastal counties are owned by the same Big Oil Corporate Petroleum Industries that own the lease-held agreements to production on tracts of lands in the Shale States of Texas, Oklahoma, New York, Colorado and Kern. Bakersfield is more like a Corporate Park in the State of Kern and most of the north coast county wells are owned by Corporations with 2 addresses, one in Houston, and one in Bakersfield. Holdings in Bakersfield and throughout the Kern Oil Fields may change hands for flexible market viability and company survivability, but those same companies selling leased acres even in other Shale plays in other States, (to reduce debt load from expansion), have held onto ownerships in the North, and are expanding the lease-acres. Chevron, Vintage (OXY) and INNEX either hold leases or own acreage in Humboldt, Mendocino, Sonoma and Marin Counties.

In the process of permitting overlying land use activities, as the lead agency, the County must also comply with the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) and take into consideration all potential impacts on the environment, including subsurface impacts. Monterey, San Benito, and Santa Barbara have developed regulations that require extensive information about the surface and subsurface aspects of proposed hydraulic fracturing operations.

The Williamson Act, Lands Under Agricultural Preserve Contract

The presence or absence of 'known' producible areal extents of hydrocarbons shifts, bounded by the historical and chronological use of available of technology, production costs to market access ratios (distance mainly), and the economics of various extraction methods to geologic disposition e.g., targeting migrated gas/oil, or the source gas and or oil deposits.

Please consider that the expansion of the use of fracking and acidization, combined with directional drilling technologies used in the Exploration and Extraction or Production of Unconventional Hydrocarbons (Oil or Natural Gas, Methane Hydrates, Natural Gas Liquids), are not compatible with agriculture in our county, under the Williamson Act, or the County Agricultural Preserve Ordinance as incorporated into the County's certified LCP APPENDIX 11 of the Coastal Element LUP.

Land use plans and local ordinances related to the Williamson Act Agricultural Preserve Status

In 1998, Mendocino County amended it's Agricultural Preserve ordinance which applies to lands under the Willimson Act contracts, incorporating provisions of AB 2663 and SB 1534. The Agricultural Preserve Ordinance was incorporated into the County's certified LCP as APPENDIX 11 of the Coastal Element LUP. At the time, the amended APO applied to all lands under Preserve status outside the Coastal Zone. The County then amended Appendix 11 of the Coastal Coastal Element LUP, to implement the provisions of AB 2663 and SB 1534 specifically within the Coastal Zone.

Coastal Agriculture was and is recognized by the Coastal Act, and the act contains several policies calling for the preservation of agriculture and agricultural lands. Section 30241 of the Coastal Act (a) though (f), in particular subsection (e) which states: “By assuring … non-agricultural development do not impair agricultural viability, either through increased assessment costs, or degraded air and water quality.” Mendocino County LCP Amendment No. 1-99, Part A (Major) filed with the Coastal Commission on 03 20 1999 heard on 05 10 2000 in Santa Rosa.

According to well records on file at DOGGR, to date, in California, most producing wells are conventional vertical production wells. There is a recognition within the industry of the economics of multiple wellbores from a single pad with laterals running great distances, hydraulic fracturing, acid fracking, and potential for increased flow rates.

The companies, which make up the bulk of the Oil and Gas Sector Giants and their subsidiaries, whether producing oil and NGLs from the Monterey Shales, or dry-gas from the non-associated fields in the northern part of the State, own producing acreages in the well known shale gas plays around the country. This same experience in the active plays throughout the country fuels investments in California landscapes. Amidst posted company profiles and reorganization filings at the SEC, there is great excitement in updating drilling extraction methods and moving forward, across the landscape expanding production.

These industrial 'experiences' often don't look the same to the longtime residents, farmers, ranchers, rural communities, the Public Health Agencies and doctors, clinics, school nurses, health investigators, moms and dads who have experienced impacts to quality of life, land, air, water, health, social infrastructure.

Mendocino County has a Precautionary Principle, perhaps it's application has never been more necessary and urgent. Unconventional Natural Gas Production facilities spatial requirements and impacts: surface disturbance, fugitive emissions, the Williamson Act in an Agricultural County, air and water quality degradation and possible aquifer contamination, aquifer exemptions, aquifer or surface water withdrawals for production and well maintenance cycles, evaporative ponds or tanks, for wastewater recycling, then trucking solid wastes and semi-solids to a remote disposal well, or the preferred method of drilling and permitted use of onsite UIC disposal wells, the pipelines which will cross denuded and compacted forest soils adding to the increased use of herbicide poison control methods, and lastly, the inherent dangers of forced community pooling and unitization.

Interim Moratorium (45 Day) In Santa Cruz County Passes 09102013 and then it's extended!

“With the advent of fracking, this controversial technique, it’s now become much more likely they would start doing oil and gas development again here,” Santa Cruz County Supervisor John Leopold says. “It’s my feeling the destructive nature of this practice isn’t worth the benefits it might generate.” The supervisors voted 5-0 in October for a 10-month moratorium, to keep the industry from getting ahead of them.

For The County of Mendocino The Urgency Is Now

Great care was taken by members of the Ocean Protection Coalition of Fort Bragg to modify language in the original documents from Mendocino County Chapter 19.04 the Moratorium Ordinance on Offshore/Onshore Development Of Oil; and the Santa Cruz Planning Department analysis to their BoS, along with the subsequent Santa Cruz County Moratorium Ordinance; and finally the 2014 Amended Language to Chapter 19.04 Voter Approval Of General Plan Or Coastal Plan Amendments For Onshore Facilities Supporting Offshore Oil And Gas Exploration And Development.

constant comments, and informative research links;

Tomas DiFiore
by Tomas DiFiore Wednesday Feb 26th, 2014 8:55 AM

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