CC Council Reaffirms 5-Year, Phase Out Period for Oil Activities in OIF

By Culver City Observer Staff

The Culver City Council revisited on Monday night the ordinance calling for the amortization and termination of nonconforming oil and gas activities within Culver City, including the city's portion of the Inglewood Oil Field (OIF), by November 2024.

At a special hearing, the Council voted 4-1 to reaffirm the five-year phase out period for the gas production activities in Culver City and to clarify the implementation the oil ban ordinance.

In addition, councilmembers discussed the possibility of litigation with Sentinel Peak Resource, owner of the oil field since 2017.

Councilmember Goran Eriksson, who cast the dissenting vote, expressed concerns that the city may have to spend millions of dollars in legal fees and urged the city to work out alternatives with Sentinel Peak to avoid litigation.

But Mayor Alex Fisch countered that he had exploratory conversations with Sentinel Peak Resources and "no concrete plan" was discussed.

He also said that he had never taken any action with the intent of going to court. "We have never been reckless in this council," he added.

Councilmember Albert Vera also mentioned that Culver City has so far spend $3 million to enact an oil ban within city limits. "Is it worth it? 100%," he said. "When it comes to public health, it is worth every penny."

On June 17, the Council voted 4-1 to end oil drilling and remove all the gas wells in the city's 78-acre portion of OIF by 2026.

Last month, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors also voted to end oil production activities in the county, starting a legal end to all oil drilling at OIF.

At the June meeting, the Council approved the Oil Drilling Subcommittee's recommendation to prohibit any drilling of new wells, remove all active wells, properly cap them, clean up and remediation of the site within the next 5 years. The new ordinance also directed staff to "refine preliminary implementation procedures and just transition" strategies for OIF workers.

According to city staff, 21 of the 41 wells at city's portion of OIF are currently idle. In addition, staff said, "28 previously plugged wells, have top-hole locations originating on the surface land area within the city's IOF, and approximately 70 additional plugged wells are located outside of the City IOF premises."

The process to end oil drilling in Culver City began in May 2018 when the Council authorized a study, conducted by Baker & O'Brien Incorporated, which focused on options for an amortization program and ways to remediate wells and transform the site for beneficial reuse to the community. The study revealed that the city's portion of the oil field is valued at $4.64 million.


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