Occidental Petroleum strikes giant oil field in Kern County

Oil rigs in Kern County.
Oil rigs in Kern County.
David McNew/Getty Images

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L.A.-based Occidental Petroleum says it’s discovered a huge field of oil and natural gas in Kern County. KPCC’s Nick Roman has the details.

Occidental says the find could yield the energy equivalent of 250 million barrels of oil. Oxy’s boss, Dr. Ray Irani, describes the find as the “biggest oil and gas discovery in California in 35 years.” He should know. Occidental’s drilled in California for half a century. It’s the state’s third-biggest producer of oil, and the biggest producer of natural gas. About two-thirds of what Oxy’s found is natural gas.

If you’re surprised that so much oil and natural gas has just been discovered here in California where it’s pretty easy to get at, you probably don’t work at Occidental. One of its business strategies is to look for oil and gas in places where other oil companies have given up. That’s why about 70 percent of its oil and gas reserves aren’t in some faraway place, but are right here in the U.S.

One note: a quarter of a billion barrels of oil is big, but at the rate we use oil in the U.S., Oxy’s Kern County find would last us about 12 days.