Project Overview

Summary Project Description

The Whittier Main Oil Field Development Project (“Project”) will involve drilling oil wells and producing oil and natrual gas from a designated “Consolidated Central Site (“Site”), located on property owned by the City of Whittier, which is part of the Puente Hills Landfill Native Habitat Preserve (“Preserve”). The preserve is located at the eastern edge of Los Angeles County, bounded by the San Gabriel River on the west and the Chino Hills to the east. The 3,869 acre Preserve extends across the Cities of Whittier, La Habra Heights and the unincorporated communities of Rowalnd Heights and Hacienda Heights.

Whittier owns 1,290 acres in the Preserve north of the developed areas of the City. This land was formerly producing oil field properties owned and operated by Chevron and Unocal Corporations. The area was commonly known as the Whittier Main Field (“Field”) which produced oil for more than 100 years from more than 500 wells until its abandonment in the early 1990s. The property is currently managed for the City by the Puente Hills Habitat Preservation Authority (“Habitat Authority”).

In October 2008, the City awarded an oil and gas lease to Matrix Oil Corporation (“Matrix”) which leased the City’s mineral rights underlying the field to Matrix, subject to the issuance of a Conditional Use Permit (“CUP”). In exchange, the City will likley receive a substantial long-term income stream from the royalties generated by the sale of crude oil and natrual gas from the project.

In April 2009, Matrix submitted its CUP application to the City requesting a permit to drill, explore and produce the remaining recoverable oil and gas reserves from the Field. After extensive study, including two Environmental Impact Reviews (“EIR”), the Whittier City Council unanimously approved the Final EIR and the issuance of the CUP to Matrix in November 2011.

The Project will be carried out in three phases. The Drilling and Testing Phase (Phase I) will involve the drilling of three test wells on the Site, and the assessment of the quality and quantity of oil and natrual gas produced. Drilling will take approximately ninety days, and testing will last up to four months.

Assuming that Matrix deems the testing successful and the project economically viable, the Design and Construction Phase will commence. Phase II will involve construction of well cellars, installation of oil and natrual gas processing and transportation facilities, and construction of separate product pipelines which will be buried beneath the ground and will transport the crude oil and natural gas to larger common-carrier pielines, and ultimately to market. The North Access Road will also be improved in order to accommodate large trucks and other oversized vehicles for ingress and egress to the Site. This Phase is estimated to last approximately two years.

Phase III is the Operations and Maintenance Phase during which up to fifty-seven additional wells will be rilled to efficiently produce the remaining recoverable oil and natural gas from beneath the Field. These wells will be operated and maintained throughout the field’s remaining economic life, the duration of which will depend on several factors, including productivity of the wells, market prices for crude oil and natrual gas, and the cost of operations.

Preferred Project Alternative: The Consolidated Central Site

As part of the EIR, the City of Whittier’s outside consultants, who analyzed the proposed projects, studied the submitted project and five alternatives based on overall safety and on minimizing environmental impacts to nearby residents and to the animals and birds who inhabit the Preserve. The “Preferred Alternative” recommended by the EIR consultants, is the Consolidated Central Site, which minimizes the footprint of the project to less than 2-10ths of 1% of the total Preserve area and successfully minimizes all environmental impacts.

Based on the consultant’s recommendation, the City issued a CUP to Matrix to proceed with the Consolidated Central Site alternative. Matrix has accepted the conditions of the CUP and is finalizing plans to drill and construct the project accordingly.

The entire project will be consolidated on one seven-acre site in La Canada Canyon, which is presently off limits to all members of the public. The Consolidated Central Site project will consist of underground concrete well cellars, well test stations, and liquid and natural gas separating equipment. In addition, the Site will house the oil processing facility, natural gas plant and a temporary oil-truck loading facility.

The enitre project will be:

  • Four football fields from the nearest residence and behind a hill
  • Unseen and designed to be unheard by area residents, as all wellheads will be secured in underground, soundproof concrete cellars
  • Secured by surrounding the entire facility with concrete walls
  • Insulated for sound minimization
  • Screened from view by native plants, trees and natural hills
  • Shielded to minimize light impact on the surrounding areas
  • Protected by well shafts that will be encased in steel from top to bottom insuring no interference with the fresh water aquifer
  • Quiet, by using electricity to power underground pumps to pull fluids to the surface
  • Protected by an impermeable [waterproof] lining of the Site to prevent any seepage into groundwater
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In addition, the Preferred Project Alternative recommended the use of the North Access Road for entry to and exit from the Preserve for all large trucks and vehicles towing trailers. This road will be accessed via Penn Street, through the City of Whittier Landfill, and will enter the Preserve from the northern end of La Canada Canyon. The North Access Road will require substantial improvement to provide safe and efficient access to the Consolidated Central Site. This work will be done at the beginning of Phase II, to facilitate its use during the major construction and operations phases of the project. Utilization of the North Access Road will significantly reduce traffic impacts on Mar Vista Street and Catalina Avenue during Phases II and III of the Project.

The Consolidated Central Site successfully balances Whittier’s environmental and economic future.

There will be no refining of oil or gas at the site. We estimate it will take five to ten years to drill and build the entire project. As each well is finished, it will be put into operation to begin producing oil and natural gas, so royalty revenue will be generated for the City of Whittier within one year of the commencement of operations.