A History of Oil Production in Hermosa Beach

Hermosa Beach in 1925 (HB Historical Society)
Hermosa Beach in 1925 (HB Historical Society)

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

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Fred Reardon April 08, 2014 at 08:57 PM
Oil Companies and greedy investors always say it's safe! Check out this video about the horrific California Oil Spill they say would never happen on YouTube: http://youtu.be/jqd_VTADHzM Ecology!
Richard Finken April 10, 2014 at 03:33 PM
That was 45 years ago. That was offshore, this is onshore. That was an undrilled prospect, this is an extension of a field discovered in 1922 that will benefit from all the experience gained since then. This project also benefits from the experience of the similar development of the Redondo Offshore between 1956 and 1978. This project will be safe and secure.
South Bay Jane April 13, 2014 at 08:40 PM
Thank you for that additional information, Richard. I've noticed that the anti-oil people provide a lot of unrelated, non-relevant so-called examples of other oil projects that don't use the same technology, aren't located in the same type of geographical location, were not done in the same century or even remotely close to the same period in time, which illustrates a drastic change and improvement in technology, and basically cannot be logically compared to the project that E&B will be doing. They need to read up on the current technology and study exactly what E&B plans to do before throwing out these ridiculous comparisons.
Fred Reardon April 14, 2014 at 01:23 AM
These anonymous posts always come from the gluttonous fossil fuel burning paid propaganda people. Besides the whole "it's safe to drill off Santa Barbara," remember Sarah Palin and team of rocket scientists stating "it's safe…yeah…drill baby drill…drill baby drill" and then they all crawled under a rock for years after the spill in the gulf. Why would anyone want to create such a dangerous scenario in this densely populated South Santa Monica Bay Area by pulling toxic fossil fuel out of the ground in a seismic intense area? Go drill in an area without people living over top of the drilling area...if you must. There are some seriously greedy people in this world. I hope the people of Hermosa Beach don't believe these comments posted by charlatans.
Richard Finken April 14, 2014 at 03:41 PM
Jane makes a good point that you reinforce by accusing her of being a "gluttonous.........paid propaganda [person]." How do you know that? You really should be more respectful of other opinions. This is a good project, well though out, that can safely provide many benefits for the people of Hermosa Beach. There are many communities in the Los Angeles area that have oil developments providing revenues to them.


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