PetroRock Energy submitted an application to the county’s planning department last week to drill 230 cyclic steam injection wells, bringing the total number of pending steam wells in Santa Barbara to about 700. Kevin Drude, the county’s Energy Division deputy director, said more applications might trickle in as the economy improves, but he doesn’t expect any new bids in the immediate future. If granted after roughly a yearlong environmental review process, Bakersfield-based PetroRock would triple its operations in the county. The company received approval early last year to drill 56 new oil and gas wells to augment its 17-oil-well project.

Meanwhile, Drude said, the department just received the go-ahead from legal and accounting departments to start processing the environmental impact review for an application for 233 steamed wells from ERG Resources, the company that filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy earlier this year after the price of oil tanked. The company plans to sell the business but maintains existing operations, according to court documents.

In April, Bakersfield-based Aera Energy submitted an application to drill 144 oil wells ​— ​known as steam flooding, slightly different from cyclic steaming ​— ​at East Cat Canyon Oil Field. Also, Pacific Coast Energy Company is still in the process of trying to double its 96 cyclic-steaming-well project. Last week, the supervisors okayed a permit for seep cans at the company’s Orcutt facility.

The planning department has 30 days to deem an application complete or incomplete based on a list of criteria, Drude said; most fall short of completion on the first proposal.


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