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Abandoned oil wells uncapped

Oil wells in California that were capped are now being opened because rising petroleum demand and new technology are permitting oil companies to profitably extract oil in the Golden State.

Wells that are 45 years old are being put back into production, with many wells in Los Angeles having been shut down after only 20 or 25 percent of the oil was extracted, reported the Associated Press. Current technology permits up to 50 percent of the reserves in a well to be drained before the well is capped. While California has some 3,000 abandoned wells, oil experts are predicting that all of them may soon be operating again.

“The decision to uncap California oil wells proves that U.S. oil production did not ‘peak’ because we ran out of domestic oil,” comments Jerome R. Corsi, Ph.D., co-author with Craig R. Smith of “Black Gold Stranglehold: The Myth of Scarcity and the Politics of Oil.” “Much oil in the U.S. has been kept in the ground awaiting new technology and higher prices. Truly, we do not know how much oil we have in the U.S. because environmental objections have consistently blocked efforts to explore for oil and natural gas offshore and in Alaska.”

Corsi also points to the “Deep Trek” project, which has been launched by the U.S. Department of Energy to encourage U.S. domestic exploration in the United States. It utilizes ultra-deep drilling technology that permits oil companies to explore for oil at levels as deep as 3 miles underground. The Department of Energy reports that today 7 percent of the natural gas produced in the United States comes from formations below 15,000 feet. The agency estimates, however, that 125 trillion cubic feet of natural gas are trapped at depths 3 miles underground or more throughout the continental U.S. The “Deep Trek” project was kicked off in 2002 to develop the high-tech drilling tools the oil industry needs to tackle these deeper deposits.

John Martini, CEO of the California Independent Petroleum Association, told WND that many wells are being opened up because new technology permits companies to drill anywhere from 100 to 1,000 feet deeper with economically productive results.

“Oil production is like any other industrial process,” Mr. Martini noted, “in that new technology lets you work smarter and more efficiently. Where before we might only have gotten 20 or 30 percent of the available oil drilled out of a particular well, we might today get 50 or 60 percent.”

Another factor Martini cited was that the continued higher price of crude oil “puts in place a new set of dynamics, where smaller and smaller companies can come in and open up the capped wells profitably. California remains the fourth-largest oil producing state in America, and while our fields are considered mature fields, the new technologies may end up extending production another 15 to 20 years longer than expected.”

“We have argued that deep-earth exploration of oil and natural gas is the fastest growing part of the oil business today,” explains author Smith. “By looking deeper, we are finding oil and natural gas reserves that in previous decades our technology did not permit us to profitably produce. These developments, both the uncapping of wells in California and the deep-earth exploration for natural gas in the continental U.S., are important developments for increasing domestic energy supplies, developments which the public should know are going on.”

Martini stressed that uncapping wells in California will not adversely affect California lifestyles.

“In many cases, the infrastructure is already in place,” he told WND, “so putting these wells back into production will not cause an unseemly impact on the landscape.”

Martini expects the new drilling will benefit Californians: “You have to remember that 100 percent of the oil refined in California is used in California. You might end up driving on an L.A. freeway using gasoline that came from a field we were able to put back in production right there in Los Angeles County, maybe not far from where you are driving.”

Special offer: Get Corsi and Smith’s “Black Gold Stranglehold” at WND’s online store.

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