California regulators investigating Rincon Island oil wells

California regulators investigating Rincon Island oil wells

California state regulators have confirmed that an investigation has been launched into one of the state’s early offshore oil drilling operations after severely corroded and unsafe wells and other equipment were discovered at the idle facility.

The state Department of Conservation said the facility in question has ties to an oil company that has a long history of spills that allowed artificial Rincon Island wells near a popular surf spot on the Southern California coast to fall into disrepair.

Ken Harris, supervisor of the Division of Oil, Gas & Geothermal Resources (DOGGR), said the department was concerned over the number of long-term idle wells at this site.

Confirming ongoing investigation, Harris added, “The operator has failed to maintain the facility to regulatory standards. DOGGR and industry worked hand in hand for many decades. I think there's an effort being made to try to change that culture.”

The well in question was acquired by oil giant Greka, which is responsible for numerous spills in Santa Barbara County, in 2002.

In October last year, a massive natural gas well blew out, spewing the largest known amount of methane into the atmosphere and dislocating more than 6,400 families in nearby areas. It may be noted here that methane is a powerful climate-changing gas.