Wednesday, 2 October 2013

Spot the Wells Part II: Downtown LA

I've played this game with you before but it's time for another go. Here's an aerial image of the Beverly Hills area of LA. Can you spot 50 oil wells?

Spot them? Thought not? How about if I zoom in a little?

If you've got sharp eyes, you might just be able to spot them now, but maybe not. Just in case, I'll zoom in one more time:

You should be able to see them now - nestled in behind the Beverly Center Shopping Mall. If you're still not sure, check out google maps here. As we did for the Forth Worth Airport wells, let's go to street view and see what we can see (again, I recommend that you go to google maps and do this for yourself):

On the occasion of this image, there is a drilling rig on site (the frame tower you can see). These are temporary structures present only while the well is drilled. As for anything else, all you can see is the wall shielding the pipes and tanks from view, the whole site dominated completely by the shopping mall.

Approx. 50 wells have been drilled from this pad, which is targeting a tight oil reservoir (much like at Balcombe, as I'm sure we're all aware). All have been hydraulically stimulated (i.e. fracked). It's right that we discuss the potential surface impacts of shale gas development in the UK. But we should always bear in mind what can be done to ensure that the impact is minimised.

This website provides some neat examples of other drilling pads discretely dotted around downtown LA. According to this site (I've not been able to find verify this anywhere), the Beverly Center pad produces 500,000 barrels of oil a year. At a price of approx. $100/barrel, that's worth $50,000,000 dollars per year. As per the wells at Fort Worth Airport, I struggle to think of any other economic activity where you can get as much 'buck' for as little footprint.


  1. I think you should also show us the photos taken whilst they were fracking and tell us how long it took them to frack those 50 wells in elapsed time Doctor. What you are doing here is like showing the scar of a patient who has undergone open heart surgery and saying "look the operation wasn't very messy was it?"

    Why do you have to play these disingenuous games. Doesn't the truth work for you?

  2. Not sure what to say here - as I mentioned in the post, there is actually a drilling rig on site when the street-view shot is taken. Either they are drilling a new well, or performing a work-over on an old well.

    So, to take your heart-surgery simile, the patient is on the operating table, their chest is open, and the surgeons are operating. That is what is shown on the street-view shot. I hope you don't think it's too messy.

    I don't have specific data for how long this site has been in operation. More generally, it takes about a month to drill a well, and a couple of day to perform a stimulation. Usually each well is drilled sequentially, and then the stimulations performed on all of them over a couple of weeks.

  3. Thanks for these views - really does put things in perspective ('scuse pun).
    I saw some pics of a shale pad in DFW that was hidden away between a golf course and a recreation ground.
    Makes me wonder how many, if any, of the locals even know those sites are there.
    Compare these very discrete sites with a wind would probably need to carpet an area the size of a good bit of LA to produce the same amount of energy as that one small oil pad - and then only if the wind blows!