Petrorock Withdraws Application for Drilling Operation

Oil Company Cancels Plans for New Wells in Cat Canyon Oil Fields; Environmental Groups Celebrate

East Cat Canyon field | Credit: Google Earth

The oil and gas firm Petrorock announced on April 1 it is withdrawing an application for “hundreds of new wells in the north central portion of the Cat Canyon Oil Field, located just 10 miles from Santa Maria,” according to a press release from the Environmental Defense Center on Wednesday. According to the press release, Petrorock was hoping to drill some 231 new oil wells, along with 29 well pads and five steam generators for injection to extract oil. 

Environmental groups such as the EDC, Sierra Club, and SBCAN celebrated the cancellation of the plans, citing the threat oil production poses to the ecosystem and the desperate need to draw down production as the threat posed by climate change continues to grow. 

“The termination of the PetroRock application is a major victory for our environment and public health, and demonstrates the power of the people to dictate the clean energy future we want for our County,” said Tara Messing, staff attorney for the EDC in the press release. 

The withdrawal comes less than two weeks after a tanker truck overturned and spilled thousands of gallons of crude oil into the Cuyama River above Twitchell Reservoir, the main source of water for Santa Maria, an incident environmentalists say validates their concerns regarding oil production and transportation. 

“As evidenced by the recent crash and spill of over 4,500 gallons of crude oil into the Cuyama River, the remaining Cat Canyon proposals constitute major threats to our water, wildlife, and communities,” said Ken Hough, executive Director of SBCAN in the release. 

The press release drew attention to additional projects by energy companies TerraCore and Aera Energy, and the environmental organizations listed in the release vowed to keep up the pressure to cancel those projects, as well. “We must maintain this momentum to put even more pressure on the remaining two projects proposed by Aera and TerraCore, which pose unacceptable risks to County residents’ air, drinking water, and public safety,” said Messing. 

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