FISHBURN, M. D., U.S. Department of Energy, Elk Hills, Tupman, CA
ABSTRACT: History of the Naval Petroleum Reserves, Elk Hills, Kern County, California
The history of Naval Petroleum Reserve 1 (Elk Hills) is the story of the rise of the petroleum industry in California, the birth of the modern American Navy, political scandal, and the formation of an unusual partnership by Standard Oil Company and the federal government.
The creation of the Naval Petroleum Reserve 1 was an early triumph of the conservation movement. During its first 15 yr, the reserve was defended against those who favored rapid development and exploitation; in the following 50 yr, with the exception of a brief period during World War II, production was kept to a minimum and oil drainage from outside was largely eliminated. When put on production in 1976, the field was thought to contain more than 1 billion bbl of recoverable oil. President Taft created the Naval Petroleum Reserve 1 by executive order on September 2, 1912. Although Associated Oil Company had already found oil in 1910, the 1 Hay well drilled by Standard Oil Company in 1919 is credited with the discovery of Elk Hills field. Since that time, more than 2000 wells have bee drilled, including the deepest well in California at 24,426 ft. Oil production reached 181,000 bbl/day in 1981 and is currently 68,000 bbl/day.
The billionth barrel of oil at Elk Hills was produced on September 12, 1992, almost 80 yr to the day that the reserve was created.
More than 400 million bbl under present production strategies remain to be produced, and with additional advances in technologies in oil recovery, EOR processes, and potential deeper untested intervals, there is the likelihood that 2 billion bbl eventually will be recovered from Elk Hills.
AAPG Search and
Discovery Article #90992©1993 AAPG Pacific Section Meeting, Long Beach,
California, May 5-7, 1993.