Responding to Oil Seeps

A seep can at Orcutt Hill.

Occasionally in oil-rich areas, oil reaches the surface from shallow areas immediately beneath the ground. California has thousands of naturally occurring seeps, including one of the world’s largest off Coal Oil Point in the Santa Barbara Channel. The La Brea Tar Pits in Los Angeles are the result of a similar natural seepage of tar.

When oil seeps occur at Orcutt Hill, we respond immediately to contain them and minimize their environmental impact. We also immediately file public reports for each seep that occurs, as required by local and state regulatory agencies. The most effective method of capturing seeps is by using seep cans, a simple solution consisting of a perforated pipe that’s lowered into the ground to collect the seep oil. Some seep cans include pumps to direct the fluid into gathering lines flowing to our production facility. This process has succeeded in minimizing the impacts of naturally occurring oil seeps at Orcutt Hill.

Seep cans are required, regulated, and overseen by the California Department of Conservation, Division of Oil, Gas and Geothermal Resources (DOGGR). Aspects of the seep can installation are also permitted and regulated by the County of Santa Barbara. PCEC enjoys a strong, collaborative working relationship with both DOGGR, which maintains an office in Orcutt, and with the County.