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New Times / News

The following article was posted on June 11th, 2014, in the New Times - Volume 28, Issue 46 [ Submit a Story ]
The following articles were printed from New Times [newtimesslo.com] - Volume 28, Issue 46

San Luis Obispo County officials continue their review of a proposed oil-drilling project in Huasna Valley

BY COLIN RIGLEY

San Luis Obispo County officials have about a month to determine whether to accept the application for a proposed oil-drilling operation on the Porter Ranch near the Huasna Valley area.

On June 3, Bakersfield-based applicant Dero Parker submitted studies in order to comply with a county request for additional information on his Alamo Creek Project minor use permit application. The studies focused on several issues that are of potential concern, most significantly potential impacts to traffic and noise, the threat of oil spills and fire, and cleanup plans if the project is scrapped.

According to the submitted traffic study, the project would have minimal impacts.

“Projected trip generation resulting from the proposed exploratory drilling activities is low in comparison to both road capacity and current traffic counts such that no impact on level of service will result,” according to the traffic study, which said that trucks will be routed out Alamo Creek Road and Highway 166, but not through Huasna.

Truck traffic was one of the main concerns for the proposed Excelaron project on the Mankins Ranch. Though the projects are proposed by different applicants in different locations, they share some financers, including Australian Oil Company and United Hunter Oil and Gas.

If approved, the Porter Ranch project, consisting of an initial test well followed by as many as three additional wells, would kick off with around-the-clock drilling of the first well for about 10 days, followed by a daytime-only testing phase. If the first well fails to turn out favorable results, Parker said he will stop the project. Australian Oil Company, which has a 45 percent working interest in the project, said in its most recent quarterly activities report that the project could produce an estimated 10 million barrels of oil.

A noise study by Edward L. Pack Associates concluded that the noise will be “within the hourly average and maximum noise limits of the San Luis Obispo County Noise Element.” Overall, the study found that the project wouldn’t require noise mitigation measures.

“We’ve submitted everything above and beyond what we should have submitted,” Parker told New Times. “And hopefully it’ll satisfy those concerned and answer some questions that folks may have had, and we can move on.”

County officials have 30 days to decide whether to accept the application as is, or request more information. They will then determine the appropriate level of environmental review, the most stringent of which would be a full environmental impact report. Regardless of those next steps, county planning officials have decided to send the application through the county Planning Commission.

“It’ll be at the Planning Commission level at least, so we were pleased to know that,” Huasna Foundation President Tracy Del Rio said, adding that members of the group are still reviewing the new documents.