December 2, 2022
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Aera downsizes East Cat Canyon proposal


Aera Energy has sharply reduced the number of wells in its proposed redevelopment of the East Cat Canyon in North Santa Barbara County.

The company told the Business Times that it plans to reduce the number of wells drilled from 296 to 189 without reducing output goals. The downsized footprint would reduce air emissions, freshwater usage and impacts to view sheds and wildlife habitats, Aera representative Rick Rust told the Business Times.

The decision came after the company received public feedback on its environmental impact report for the project, he said. “We understand this whole thing is a dialogue. We challenged our engineers to pare down the well count while maintaining our production goals.”

Santa Barbara County Planning and Development staff are still working with the Bakersfield-based company to incorporate the public comments into the report, a 600-page document that was released in November 2018.

The document outlines five project alternatives which considered things like reducing oak tree removals and the use of oil and natural gas pipelines to minimize truck trips. The project also includes 503 acres of wildlife conservation at the site.

Once the EIR is finalized, it will go to the planning commission for approval, and could be appealed to the county Board of Supervisors.

Aera’s proposal included the construction and restoration of 72 well pads and the use of a cyclic steam method to extract the oil and gas. The project would also include the construction of nine miles of access roads and infrastructure like a central processing facility, office and warehousing buildings.

“With the directional drilling techniques that are available, we’re able to reach areas that were previously graded,” Rust said, using fewer overall well heads.

• Contact Marissa Nall at