Beverly Hills Oil Field

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Location of Beverly Hills Oil Field in the Los Angeles and Southern California Basin . Other oil fields are shown in gray.

The Beverly Hills Oil Field ( English Beverly Hills Oil Field ) is a large and currently active oil field below parts of the city of Beverly Hills and its neighboring city of Los Angeles in California . Discovered in 1900, the oil field ranks 39th by size in California with a cumulative production of more than 150 million barrels of crude oil. It is unusual to find such a large, constantly-used oil field in a metropolitan area. All drilling, production and onward transport activities for the 97 active production sites will be carried out within four large "drilling rigs" - large, windowless building complexes - on Pico and Olympic Boulevard, from where diagonally directed drilling to the wells in the various oil-bearing areas Formations stretch right below the multimillion dollar mansions and commercial buildings in one of the wealthiest cities in the United States. The annual production of the oil field was 1.09 million barrels in 2006, 966,000 barrels in 2007 and 874,000 barrels in 2008. The remaining occurrence is estimated by the California Department of Conservation to be approximately eleven million barrels of crude oil. The three largest operators in 2009 were the independent oil companies Plains Exploration & Production , BreitBurn Energy and Venoco, Inc.


Detailed view of Beverly Hills Oil Field showing its relative position with respect to Beverly Hills and Los Angeles. The four active drilling centers are also shown. A fifth, inactive drill center west of Beverly Hills High School is not shown.

Although it is unusual for an oil field to be entirely within the city limits of a major city, this oil field is only one in the Los Angeles Basin that is now covered by dense residential and commercial development. The field is long and narrow. It's about six kilometers long and less than a kilometer wide. The long axis is roughly east-west, starting at the intersection of Santa Monica Boulevard and Beverly Glen Avenue to the west, going east along Pico Boulevard past La Cienaga and Fairfax Avenues to the intersection with Hauser Avenue. The oil field is narrower from north to south, extending near its center from Monte Mar Drive in Los Angeles to about two blocks north of Olympic Boulevard in Beverly Hills. The total productive area is approximately 1200 acres (approximately 480  hectares ) projected onto the surface  .

For most oil fields, the wells are drilled in an optimal location, directly over the target area. However, this approach is not possible within the boundaries of a densely built-up city, so that all drilling is carried out from four island-like buildings. These buildings are windowless, soundproof structures - in order to keep the effects on neighboring properties as low as possible. The westernmost of these buildings contains oil wells operated by Venoco, Inc. and is on the Beverly Hills High School property on the corner of Olympic Boulevard and Heath Avenue, just southwest of the football field . This drilling complex also includes storage tanks, several oil-water separation units, a pump house, a compressor hall and an office building.

Another facility, somewhat similar to that at Beverly Hills High School, is operated by BreitBurn Energy north of Pico Boulevard between Doheny Drive and Cardiff Avenues. The largest of these four rigs has more than 50 active wells and is operated by Plains Exploration & Production . It is also north of Pico Boulevard, but between Genesee Avenue and Spaulding Avenue. The wells operated here also include those directed northeast into the Salt Lake oil field . Within the boundaries of the neighboring Cheviot Hills oil field, on the floor of the Hillcrest Country Club, about 150 meters south of the intersection of Pico Boulevard and Century Hill East Avenue, is a fourth, smaller drilling center operated by Hillcrest Beverly Oil Corp. In addition to several wells operated directly into that oil field, there are also 12 active wells that were drilled diagonally into the Beverly Hills Oil Field.

The operators of a fifth drilling center on the north corner of the intersection of Avenue of the Stars and Constellation Boulevard in Century City abandoned it in 1990. This facility was built in the 1950s on what was then a backdrop piece from 20th Century Fox Studios. From the 1970s production steadily declined and the last well closed in 1989. Land use changed and rising property prices contributed to the shutdown.

The Los Angeles City Council is responsible for all construction permits and emissions related to the oil field.


The field is an anticline structure where the petroleum has been trapped by a combination of structural and stratigraphic mechanisms. To the south of the oil field is the Brentwood-Las-Cienegas Fault and to the west it ends near the Santa Monica Fault Complex. The shallowest depth of the larger deposits of economically recoverable petroleum ranges from about 1,600 to 2,100 m below sea level (the average location of this area of ​​the Los Angeles Basin is about 60 m above sea level).

The uppermost producing unit was the first discovered oil-bearing layer, which became known as the Wolfskill Zone and lies within the so-called Repetto Sands, a structure formed in the Pliocene especially in the western part of the oil field. The oil in these sands is mostly found in compressed structures where the oil is enclosed in more permeable layers by impermeable layers. Below this unit, separated by a discordance , lies the more powerful Modelo Formation, which consists of several sands: the D / M sands above, the Hauser sand, about 1400 m below sea level and the Ogden sand, about 2200 m below sea level. Below the Ogden Sand there is a bulbous slate unit , which also belongs to the Modelo Formation, but does not carry oil. Both Ogden and Hauser sands are very productive; few oil-bearing bubbles can be found in the D / M sands; elsewhere these form an impenetrable blanket for the Hauser sand. The deepest oil well in the field is in part of the Ogden Sands in the eastern part of the field. It was discovered in 1967 and is located at a depth of around 3300 below sea level.

According to BreitBurn Energy, one of the two larger producers in the eastern part of the field, there were originally 600 million barrels of crude oil; so far 111 million barrels have been produced, so that 489 million barrels remain. However, the company did not provide any information on how much of it can be used economically with current technologies.

History, production and operation

Petroleum was discovered in the northern part of the Los Angeles Basin in 1893, not far from the center of the city. The Los Angeles City Oil Field was expanded rapidly and by 1895 this oil field was producing more than half of the crude oil produced in California. Drillers began looking for other oil in the basin, also to keep up with the developed oil fields in Kern County . In July 1900, WW Orcutt drilled into the Wolfskill Zone of the Repetto Sands, some 750 m below the surface, and discovered the Beverly Hills Oil Field. The oil was of a sufficiently good quality - it was thin, with a high API level (between 33 and 60), but with only a small amount of sulfur - but development was slow because this find was relatively small and so were other oil fields in the Los Angeles Basin grew almost as fast as the operators could build oil rigs.

The eastern part of the oil field - mostly barely known as the East Area - is the most productive. It is also the last of the major oil fields to be discovered in the Los Angeles Basin; it wasn't found until 1966. The field reached its highest production rate quickly, within two years, when a production rate of 11.8 million was reported in 1968. In 1988, BreitBurn Energy bought a portion of the Beverly Hills Oil Field to apply advanced exploration methods and secondary production technologies to the depleted oil field after previous operators began pulling back in favor of less regulated areas where less sophisticated technologies were available.

The operators of the oil field began injecting water into various pools in the East Area (today operated by BreitBurn and Plains) in 1968. In this method, produced water is pumped into the oil-bearing layers to increase the pressure. This pressure usually falls the more Rööl is pumped, so that the flow rate continues to decrease. This is counteracted by injecting water. The use of this water is also a convenient way to dispose of this industrial waste water in an urban environment, because the water that comes out of the oil field with the crude oil often exceeds the amount of the oil produced. In oil fields in more isolated areas, extensive water basins are used so that the excess water can evaporate. This is not possible in a metropolitan area, on the one hand for reasons of space, on the other hand because higher standards in terms of environmental protection apply in an urban environment. For 2008, the California Department of Conservation, Division of Oil, Gas, and Geothermal Resources (DOGGR) states a production volume of 882,953 barrels of oil and an additional 8,732,941 barrels of water for the oil field. Of this, 7,280,887 barrels were pumped back into the oil-bearing strata.

Because many of the area's residents have mining rights to their properties, they are entitled to payment of royalties for the oil extracted from under their land. In 1975 around 6,200 people received such payments.

The development of the oil field was not without controversy. The drilling complex at Beverly Hills High School resulted in a series of lawsuits in 2003 in which parents of students at the school sued to have the facility shut down. They believed they noticed an increase in cancers among people exposed to emissions from the drilling rig. Plaintiffs alleged that a "cluster" of 280 cancers - primarily Hodgkin lymphoma , non-Hodgkin lymphoma, and thyroid cancer , recorded over 30 years - of volatile organic compound emissions, including benzene and toluene, from the rig ran out of. Samples collected by the South Coast Air Quality Management District (AQMD) did not reveal any unusual data and procedures were discontinued in 2006 and 2007. The University of Southern California Medical School , according to one could not assume that they are created by the impact of petroleum and its by-products due to the knowledge referred to in the complaints cancers.

supporting documents

  1. a b Oil and Gas Statistics: 2007 Annual Report ( English , PDF) California Department of Conservation. December 31, 2007. Retrieved July 4, 2011.
  2. 2008 Preliminary Report of California Oil and Gas Production Statistics ( English , PDF) California Department of Conservation. January 2009. Retrieved July 4, 2011.
  3. well production sums ( English ) In: DOGGR database . California Department of Conservation. Retrieved July 4, 2011.
  4. ^ Beverly Hills Oil Field, at
  5. a b c d California Oil and Gas Fields ( English , PDF) California Department of Conservation. Pp. 46, 49. 1998. Retrieved July 4, 2011.
  6. Horowitz, p. 8.
  7. ^ California Department of Oil, Gas, and Geothermal Resources ( English ) In: DOGGR database . California Department of Conservation. Retrieved July 4, 2011.
  8. DOGGR 1990 Annual Report , pp. 15-16.
  9. ^ Mark T. Gamache and Paul L. Frost, Urban Development of Oil Fields in the Los Angeles Basin Area, 1983 to 2001. Publication No. TR52, California Department of Conservation. P. 2.
  10. a b c California Oil and Gas Fields ( English , PDF) California Department of Conservation. 48, 1998. Retrieved July 4, 2011.
  11. ^ Reinhard Suchsland, Geology and Production History of the East Beverly Hills Oil Field (Abstract), Los Angeles Basin, California .
  12. ^ Oil History of California, DOGGR
  13. Megan Sever: "Urban Oil Drilling," GeoTimes
  14. ^ DOGGR Beverly Hills Field production query ( English ) California Department of Conservation. Retrieved July 4, 2011.
  15. ^ DOGGR Beverly Hills Field injection query ( English ) California Department of Conservation. Retrieved July 4, 2011.
  16. ^ Urban Oil Production and Subsidence Control - A Case History, Beverly Hills (East) Oilfield, California , Erickson, RC, Spaulding, AO American Institute of Mining, Metallurgical and Petroleum Engineers, Inc. Fall 1975.
  17. Beverly Hills schools dropped from lawsuit over campus oil well (English) . March 23, 2007. Retrieved July 4, 2011. 
  18. Martin Kasindorf: Lawyers calling Beverly Hills High a hazard (English) , USA Today. April 28, 2003. Retrieved July 4, 2011. 
  19. Leon Jaroff: Erin Brockovich's Junk Science (English) . In: Time Magazine , June 11, 2003. Archived from the original on January 20, 2011 Info: The archive link was inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. . Retrieved July 4, 2011. @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot / 


  • California Oil and Gas Fields, Volumes I, II and III . Vol. I (1998), Vol. II (1992), Vol. III (1982). California Department of Conservation, Division of Oil, Gas, and Geothermal Resources (DOGGR). 1472 S. Beverly Hills Oil Field information at pp. 46-50. PDF file available from .
  • California Department of Conservation, Oil and Gas Statistics, Annual Report, December 31, 2006.
  • California Department of Conservation, Oil and Gas Statistics, Annual Report, December 31, 2007.
  • Horowitz, Joy. Parts per million: the poisoning of Beverly Hills High School . S. 8. Viking, 2007. ISBN 0670037982

Web links

Coordinates: 34 ° 3 '22.7 "  N , 118 ° 23' 21.8"  W.