--> Revitalization Of Santa Maria Basin Oil Fields

Pacific Section AAPG Convention

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Revitalization Of Santa Maria Basin Oil Fields


The Santa Maria Basin has been an active oil and gas development location since the discovery of the Orcutt field in 1901 by Western Union Oil Company. Since this discovery the basin has gone through periods of development and dormancy due to the economic challenge of heavy oil development and the uncertainty associated with developing reserves from the fractured Monterey Shale. Due to higher sustained oil prices over the past half-decade, there has been a resurgence of operations in the basin focusing on the fractured reservoirs of the Monterey Shale, tight diatomite, and Pliocene sandstones. Operators currently active in the basin are employing old and new technologies to extract generally heavy oil from these reservoirs. Notably these technologies include thermal EOR, directional drilling and acid stimulation. While these techniques have been successful in some areas, there has been inconsistency in the results. Contrasting these varied outcomes highlights the challenges and risks associated with the development of heavy oil in fractured shales and the factors that lead to success.