Santa Paula Times

Fire crews from Santa Paula, Fillmore, Ojai and County of Ventura responded to a natural gas leak from a 2 1/2-inch broken oil well casing gas line near an open gas-burning flare in the 1400 block of Ojai Road in the unincorporated area northwest of Santa Paula on Feb. 28.

Gas pipeline breaks in oilfield along Highway 150

March 13, 2013
Santa Paula News

By Kimberly Rivers

Special to the Santa Paula Times

A natural gas leak from an oil well near an open, gas-burning flame was reported in the 1400 block of Ojai Road in the unincorporated area northwest of Santa Paula on Feb. 28.

 “Five engines responded to the scene and officers found the broken gas pipeline coming from an oil well,” said Bill Nash, Ventura County Fire Department public information officer. “There was concern due to a flaring operation and dry brush in the immediate area. The valve was shut off and the flow of product was stopped. The gas did not ignite. It now becomes the responsibility of the oil company.”

The gas was leaking from a casing gas line from the oil well, Ojai 203, operated by Thompson Oil Co., according to the state Department of Conservation Division of Oil, Gas and Geothermal Resources, in its incident report. Walt Beil, DOGGR oil and gas engineer, inspected the site the day of the leak.

 Firefighters gathered upwind and south of the leak until Vintage Production representatives arrived, identified the leak from a 2 1/2-inch casing gas line and turned off the gas, according to the Ventura County Fire Protection District.

 “The pipe was damaged due to construction of a new pad for a tank,” said Santa Paula Battalion Chief Kevin Fildes. “Thompson Oil was doing the construction. We were able to contact Vintage who are very familiar with the area; they assisted us in shutting of the valve.”

“Once the initial work [of shutting off the valve] was complete, our local staff met with representatives of the Thompson Oil Co. and also with nearby residents,” said Don Drysdale of the DOGGR public affairs office. “DOGGR’s main concern is that the problem be corrected. The oil company fixed the line that had broken and DOGGR officials witnessed a pressure test to ensure the issue was resolved in accordance with our requirements.”

“We understand that there is construction related to the installation of a tank,” said Brian Baca, county of Ventura Planning manager for commercial and industrial permits. “At this time, we are unaware of any permits for that construction.” He said he is investigating whether or not an existing permit covers the construction.

“There were permitting violations related to bringing in an extra tank to store produced water and from starting to produce from a [currently non-producing] well,” said Dan Searcy, manager of the compliance division of the county of Ventura Air Pollution Control District. “Normally when they bring an oil or gas well online they need a permit from us. First [Thompson Oil] needs to correct the problem, then they can choose to either take out the tank or have it added to their permit.” In the meantime, he said that no further construction related to the installation of the storage tank should be occurring. “They need to let it sit and prove it will comply with regulations,” he said. 

A representative from Thompson Oil Co. could not be reached for comment.