Pictured: A 2013 Google Earth Image of Anterra Energy on Wooley Road, surrounded by strawberry fields.
by Kimberly Rivers
According to a letter dated Dec. 17, 2019, posted on the website for Anterra Energy Services, LLC, the facility on Wooley Road in Oxnard is temporarily closed and is not receiving any fluid for disposal.
Anterra is a commercial Class II wastewater disposal site and operates two injection wells in the Oxnard Plain. The company normally accepts oil field waste that is deemed non-hazardous. State law classifies all oil field waste that was “downhole,” or inside an oil well, as non-hazardous. The company has previously been subject to a district attorney investigation, and later paid a $500,000 fine. Company leadership has changed several times. Last year the company’s injection wells failed pressure tests and the state issued violations.
Anterra representatives did not respond to requests for comment. Most of the company’s website has been taken down. Only the letter, signed by owner Frank Staben, stating the company has a goal to “reactivate operations mid-2020,” is online.
A spokesperson with the California Geologic Energy Management Division (CalGEM), the state’s regulatory office for oil and gas operations, said that the state “did not require Anterra to stop injection,” but “required [Anterra] to perform a pressure fall off test (PFO).” The test, CalGEM explained, was intended to confirm that the pressure in the reservoir, where waste is disposed of underground, was within required limits. “The test requires a temporary halt to injection so tubing pressures can be recorded to reflect reservoir conditions. The operator cannot resume injection until the well pressure falls to zero PSI. At this point, the pressure has not reached zero and [Anterra] has continued to have the well shut.” CalGEM will be discussing “next steps with Anterra in the near future.”
Anterra is one of two commercial sites in Ventura County that is allowed to dispose of oil field waste; the other was Santa Clara Waste Water (SCWW) in Santa Paula, which is also closed following the 2014 explosion that permanently disabled employees and first responders. A new company has applied to reopen the SCWW site.
Anterra also has a pending permit renewal with the Ventura County Planning Department that will be heard by the Ventura County Planning Commission. Dave Ward, director of the planning department, said his office is trying to get a hearing set in February. “We are completing our analysis and finishing up the staff report.”