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Oil prospectors file a new drilling application near Huasna Valley 

click to enlarge WELL, WELL, WELL … WELL :  If approved, an application by Dero Parker of PEOCO would seek to drill as many as four exploratory oil wells on Porter Ranch in rural Arroyo Grande, but Parker says his project is nothing like the previous controversial Excelaron proposal. - PHOTO COURTESY OF SLO COUNTY PLANNING AND BUILDING DEPARTMENT
  • PHOTO COURTESY OF SLO COUNTY PLANNING AND BUILDING DEPARTMENT
  • WELL, WELL, WELL … WELL : If approved, an application by Dero Parker of PEOCO would seek to drill as many as four exploratory oil wells on Porter Ranch in rural Arroyo Grande, but Parker says his project is nothing like the previous controversial Excelaron proposal.
Nearly a year and a half after San Luis Obispo County delivered the final death knell to Excelaron’s proposed oil-drilling operation in the Huasna Valley, a new contender is vying to pull oil from beneath another nearby ranch.

The first thing the applicant—Bakersfield-based Dero Parker of PEOCO—wants people to know is that compared to Excelaron’s controversial project, his drilling proposal is “apples and oranges.”

“We’re not just gonna go and start poking holes everywhere,” he told New Times.

Parker applied for a minor use permit on Jan. 16. He’s seeking to drill as many as four exploratory wells on two existing pads left over from a Phillips Petroleum operation in the 1980s. If approved, the project would entail a 10-man drill crew operating for about 12 days per well, according to Parker and the application filed with SLO County Planning and Building Department.

There are no plans to use fracking or steam injection, Parker said. If all goes as planned, he hopes to find oil that’s just the right viscosity to extract without injecting steam into the well, which was one of the more controversial aspects of Excelaron’s proposal. Parker’s proposed project is on Porter Ranch, which is near but technically outside of the Huasna Valley. His project is more than a mile away from the nearest neighbor, he said, and will rely on its own supply of well water.

In August 2012, SLO County supervisors rejected Excelaron’s proposal to drill as many as four exploratory wells and an additional eight wells on Mankins Ranch, located north of Porter Ranch. The company subsequently sued the county for approximately $6.24 billion, though the case was dismissed in SLO County Superior Court. An appeal filed with the Second District Court of Appeal in Ventura is pending, and the county is expected to file a responding brief within a week.

Members of the Huasna Foundation, a neighborhood group that was instrumental throughout Excelaron’s project application, are still researching the project and trying to educate the community, according to Tracy Del Rio.

“Everybody’s sort of been in a relaxed position since the last project,” Del Rio said.

The South County Advisory Council is scheduled to hold a public meeting about Parker’s project on March 24.

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