In order to better understand the potential for profitable oil production in Hermosa Beach, E&B Natural Resources asked me to research publically available records of wells drilled and completed in Hermosa Beach. These files are maintained by California’s Division of Oil, Gas and Geothermal Resources and are available at their office in Cypress, CA.
In August 1930, California Ventura Oil Company’s well #1 (later Stinnett #1) hit oil pay and extended the Torrance Oilfield into Hermosa Beach. This and eight follow-up wells in Hermosa Beach produced over a million barrels of oil from Upper Miocene sands averaging 2630’-3050’ deep. The Torrance Oilfield was discovered in 1922 and has produced over 227 million barrels of oil. The productive sands in Hermosa Beach are equivalent to productive Upper Miocene sands in the Torrance Field. The last producing well in Hermosa Beach, Stinnett #7 (originally California Ventura Oil Company well #2) was shut in January 1988. By 2005, all Hermosa Beach wells had been plugged and abandoned.
Eight of the nine wells drilled encountered oil. There was only one dry hole. Of the nine wells drilled, six produced significant amounts of oil. Seven of the eight producing wells were completed in the Main Zone. One well, Stinnett #2, was completed in the Ranger Zone, which is located above the Main Zone, but the well was not able to produce due to excessive sand production.
Well files show that all the wells changed ownership several times throughout their operating history. All were drilled by independent operators, none being drilled by any of the major operators in business today.
The normal completion practice at Hermosa Beach in the 1930’s was to drill to the first oil sand encountered, set and cement casing and then drill a smaller hole about 500’ further and set a slotted liner in the production zone. The liner had rows of very narrow slots usually 2” long sized to let fluids in, but keep sand out. In spite of this, sand production was still a problem. Since all wells used pumps, sand production could damage pumps and from time to time, stop production.
Initial production in August 1930 peaked 22 months later in May 1932 at 205 barrels of oil per day from a total of five producing wells. Following peak production, rate declined steadily until the last well was shut in at the end of January 1988. Total oil recovered was 1.15 million barrels. The wells were profitable producers recovering significant volumes of oil. It is interesting to note that none of the wells attempted to tap deeper zones productive at the Torrance Field.
I have to say that in my bike and bus travels from Manhattan Beach to Hermosa Beach and Redondo Beach while growing up I never did see any signs of oil production. My research into Hermosa Beach oil production history surprised me that such a large volume of oil could be recovered unnoticed.
Richard D. Finken, PE
June 13, 2013