Go West, Young Man

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While Plains Exploration & Production Company (NYSE: PXP) is known mostly for its offshore oil and gas properties in the Gulf of Mexico and Eagle Ford Shale assets, the company also has a large portfolio of properties in California.

California Assets

Plains Exploration & Production Company reported 217 million barrels of oil equivalent (BOE) of proved reserves in California at the end of 2011, and estimates its total resource potential at 482 million BOE.  These oil and gas assets are located in the onshore and offshore areas of California and include both heavy and light crude oil deposits.

Plains Exploration & Production Company also has 34,234 net undeveloped acres in California, including 16,000 net acres in Kern County.  The industry has reported several promising oil and gas discoveries in this county over the last year.

Onshore Assets

Plains Exploration & Production Company produces light crude oil from a number of oil and gas fields in the Los Angeles Basin.  The company spent $105 million in capital here in 2011 and reported production of 11,200 BOE per day in the fourth quarter of 2011.  Since the fields have been producing for many years, Plains Exploration & Production Company spends a considerable amount of its capital on waterflood operations to improve recovery.

Plains Exploration & Production Company also has interests in properties in the San Joaquin Basin that produce heavy oil.  The company spent $116 million in capital here in 2011 with much of the spending directed towards enhanced oil recovery operations.  Plains Exploration & Production Company reported average daily production of 19,300 BOE per day in the fourth quarter of 2011 from the San Joaquin Basin.

Plains Exploration & Production Company’s smallest operation in California is at the Arroyo Grande Field in San Luis Obispo County.  The company reported average daily production of 1,000 BOE per day from here in the fourth quarter of 2011 and spent $63 million in capital during the year.

Offshore Assets

Plains Exploration & Production Company also has offshore oil and gas properties, including the Point Pedernales and Point Arguello fields. 

Plains Exploration & Production Company owns a 69.3% working interest in the Point Arguello Unit, which is located near Santa Barbara County.  The company operates the Hildalgo, Hermosa and Harvest platforms in this unit and reported production of 2,800 BOE per day from here in the fourth quarter of 2011.

Plains Exploration & Production Company also has a 100% working interest in the Point Pedernales project and operates Platform Irene, also near Santa Barbara County.  The company reported production of 5,700 BOE per day in the fourth quarter of 2011 from Point Pedernales and the onshore Lompoc oil field.

Other California Operators

Many other oil and gas companies also have producing properties in California.  Exxon Mobil (NYSE: XOM) operates several offshore platforms near Santa Barbara County that produce from the Hondo, Pescado and Sacate oil fields.  The company transports production from these fields by pipeline to two onshore facilities for processing and further transportation to refineries.

One of the largest oil and gas producers in California is Aera Energy LLC, which is jointly owned by Exxon Mobil and Royal Dutch Shell (NYSE: RDS-B).  This entity operates fields across California with a concentration in the San Joaquin Valley and produces approximately 143,000 barrels of oil and 40 million cubic feet of natural gas per day.  The largest field operated by Aera Energy LLC is the Belridge Producing Complex located in Kern County, which produces approximately 85,800 BOE per day. 

Occidental Petroleum (NYSE: OXY) is also a large producer in California and reported average crude oil and natural gas liquids production of 103,000 barrels per day and 269 million cubic feet per day of natural gas in the second quarter of 2012.  Occidental Petroleum has been one of the leaders in exploring for additional oil and gas resources here and will spend 20% of its $8.3 billion capital budget in California in 2012.  The company is targeting both conventional and unconventional oil and gas resources here and is operating 31 rigs in the state.    

One company that operates almost entirely in California is Venoco (NYSE: VQ), which has operations in the Sacramento Basin and various other onshore and offshore areas.  The company reported average production of 17,425 BOE per day from California in the second quarter of 2012. The management of Venoco is attempting to take the company private at $12.50 per share and received shareholder approval for this offer in June 2012.

Although California has a reputation for being inhospitable to the oil and gas industry, Plains Exploration & Production Company and other operators have legacy assets here that have been producing for generations.  The industry is also exploring for new oil and gas resources in California and hope to bring the shale gas and oil revolution to the West Coast.


shaleplays has no positions in the stocks mentioned above. The Motley Fool owns shares of ExxonMobil. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.If you have questions about this post or the Fool’s blog network, click here for information.

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