California | October 2020
California, with both onshore and offshore oil production, has been supplying the U.S. with petroleum products since the 19th century. Operations are primarily focused around Kern County, the LA Basin, and the San Joaquin Valley, with the Midway-Sunset oil field in Kern County being the state’s largest.
State Drilling Statistics (End of October)
Total Rigs in California- 4
Total Rigs in United States- 296
Total U.S. Rigs down 65% YTD
Dwindling Support for Newsom
Newsom put himself into the spotlight in September for his controversial promise to phase out gas-powered vehicles and calling an end to hydraulic fracturing in California. Now, lawmakers are growing increasingly skeptical of the claim. Most seem to be in support of the policy changes, but they feel it is mostly lip service at this point. As Assemblywoman Cristina Garcia put it, “If this is going to be successful, we’re going to need not just a governor’s endorsement, but he needs to put the muscle behind this also to help get the votes together. I’ve seen bills that do way less related to oil die in the Legislature.” Even more are starting to question Newsom’s intent as the announcement seemed too well-timed a move to draw headlines or potentially kick off a political dogfight in Sacramento against oil interests and their trade union allies. This is a battle legislators and environmentalists in California have lost before, and to win next year, it requires Newsom to make a strong effort to push the proposal through. Unfortunately, he is becoming known as a man of words and not action. The biggest hurdle in the fracking ban is the bipartisanship between the liberals in coastal and urban areas who are in great support of “reversing climate change,” and the more inland moderates who say that thousands of working-class jobs will be lost. As it stands, steam injection seems to be safe for the short term as everyone has their sights locked on hydraulic fracturing, but Newsom temporarily halted the practice about this time last year. 2021 will likely be a controversial year for oil and gas in California, and time will tell what last effects will come of it.
Fires Rage On
California has been struggling with wildfires for months now, but Pacific Gas and Electric told its customers to brace themselves as the worst is yet to come. Historically, California’s biggest fires crop up in October and the end of the month exhibited the driest humidity levels and the strongest winds of the wildfire season thus far. The National Weather Service issued warnings for many areas predicting 35 mph winds in San Francisco, and up to 70 mph winds at higher elevations leading into the mountains. This makes the likelihood of a spark or ember being carried to drier brush and forestland much much higher. Unfortunately, this means PG&E had to shut off power for over 1 million customers for a 3 day period. PG&E isn’t taking any chances as a 2018 blaze ignited by damaged PG&E equipment destroyed a significant part of the town of Paradise and killed 85 people. This is the 5th public safety power shutoff of 2020, and 8 of the 10 deadliest wildfires in California history occurred in October or November, so hopefully California will catch a break sooner or later.
California Oil Production
California Gas Production
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