February 16, 2006
Mike Stepanovich, 661/654-2456, firstname.lastname@example.org,
or Jaclyn Loveless, 661/654-2138, email@example.com
Frank Charron has been busier than usual lately. The curator of the California Well Sample Repository at California State University, Bakersfield has seen more interest in the information stored in the repository – a significant increase.
“It’s hard to quantify, but we’ve certainly had an increased amount of activity here,” Charron said. “I’ve had to put time into servicing a lot of requests.”
The increased interest stems from the high oil prices. With prices for the U.S. benchmark, West Texas Intermediate crude in the mid-$60-a-barrel range, and Kern’s heavy crude fetching more than $50 a barrel, interest is high in old wells to see if additional production might be possible.
“There’s a good chance that a lot of oil is left in the state,” Charron said. “Exploration is typically done by smaller companies, but now the majors are looking.
“Good information is available from the state Division of Oil and Gas, but you can get better data here. Why? Because what goes to the state is just what the state requires. What we have here is information that’s been used.
“The Well Sample Repository is the only such facility in the state. We have more than 5,000 cores from wells in the state, but we also have the data that goes with those cores. … Geologists like looking at that stuff, the lab analyses, the proprietary data.
“The last couple weeks I’ve had calls from two people in Denver looking for stuff. I’ve had queries from Houston. California is starting to be looked at a lot more. There’s more exploration, and companies are going back into old fields and reassessing them. They’re looking at other levels of play in existing oil fields.
“This is a big state and there’s a lot of geologic structures. There’s a significant amount of oil in California, and many people believe not all of it has been captured.”
Charron said the repository has also collected file cabinets full of data that in the current market is drawing interest. “We have micro-paleontology reports, the study of small fossils. They’re not discussed or studied much any more, but they’re very important from a stratographic sense. We learned that 11,000 reports were going to be tossed out by Unocal; we have them here. We have the old Superior Oil Co.’s collection of core from the 1930s to the ’50s.
“We have fairly complete offshore logs, logs from most of the basins in California. Plus there are older fields where different production zones are being examined. Some of those zones may not have been attractive economically at the time the well was drilled, but today they bear re-evaluation. Some of the old fields that were first discovered in the early 1900s and abandoned in the ‘30s – just about every one of them is being re-examined.”
And the new interest in the Well Sample Repository brings with it attention to the space available for what many geologists see as a “real diamond in the rough.” The repository has been referred to as a geologic library.
“We always need more space,” Charron said. “What we have is practically gone.”
Charron works as contract geologist for Chevron in the Kern River Field four days a week, and spends his Wednesdays at the Well Sample Repository.
For more information about the California Well Sample Repository, please call Charron at (661) 654-2324, or geology professor Robert Horton at