Campus: Bakersfield -- February 20, 2006
Well Sample Repository Busy
Frank Charron has been busier than usual lately. The curator of
the California Well Sample Repository at California State University,
Bakersfield has seen more interest in the information stored in the
repository - a significant increase.
"It's hard to quantify, but we've certainly had an increased amount
of activity here," Charron said. "I've had to put time into servicing
a lot of requests."
The increased interest stems from the high oil prices. With prices
for the U.S. benchmark, West Texas Intermediate crude in the
mid-$60-a-barrel range, and Kern's heavy crude fetching more than
$50 a barrel, interest is high in old wells to see if additional
production might be possible.
"There's a good chance that a lot of oil is left in the state,"
Charron said. "Exploration is typically done by smaller companies,
but now the majors are looking.
"Good information is available from the state Division of Oil and
Gas, but you can get better data here. Why? Because what goes to
the state is just what the state requires. What we have here is
information that's been used.
"The Well Sample Repository is the only such facility in the state.
We have more than 5,000 cores from wells in the state, but we also
have the data that goes with those cores. … Geologists like looking
at that stuff, the lab analyses, the proprietary data.
"The last couple weeks I've had calls from two people in Denver
looking for stuff. I've had queries from Houston. California is
starting to be looked at a lot more. There's more exploration, and
companies are going back into old fields and reassessing them. They're
looking at other levels of play in existing oil fields.
"This is a big state and there's a lot of geologic structures.
There's a significant amount of oil in California, and many people
believe not all of it has been captured."
Charron said the repository has also collected file cabinets full
of data that in the current market is drawing interest. "We have
micro-paleontology reports, the study of small fossils. They're not
discussed or studied much any more, but they're very important from
a stratographic sense. We learned that 11,000 reports were going to
be tossed out by Unocal; we have them here. We have the old Superior
Oil Co.'s collection of core from the 1930s to the '50s.
"We have fairly complete offshore logs, logs from most of the basins
in California. Plus there are older fields where different production
zones are being examined. Some of those zones may not have been
attractive economically at the time the well was drilled, but today
they bear re-evaluation. Some of the old fields that were first
discovered in the early 1900s and abandoned in the '30s - just about
every one of them is being re-examined."
And the new interest in the Well Sample Repository brings with it
attention to the space available for what many geologists see as a
"real diamond in the rough." The repository has been referred to as
a geologic library.
"We always need more space," Charron said. "What we have is
Charron works as contract geologist for Chevron in the Kern River
Fieldfour days a week, and spends his Wednesdays at the Well Sample
For more information about the California Well Sample Repository,
please call Charron at (661) 654-2324, or geology professor Robert
Horton at (661) 654-3059.
Mike Stepanovich, (661) 654-2456,
Jaclyn Loveless, (661) 654-2138, firstname.lastname@example.org