California Dreaming: How 90-Acres Of Huntington Beach Oceanfront Could Finance America’s Greenest Petroleum – Forbes

No Comments

Premium Domain Names for Sale at
Believe it or not, California used to be a “Big Oil” state. It dates back to the turn of the 20th Century, when John D. Rockefeller’s Standard Oil monopoly controlled production nationwide. In fact, petroleum output didn’t peak in the Golden State until 1985 when it hit one million barrels per day, with most of that gushing from the century-old megafields around Bakersfield, in the dusty San Joaquin basin north of Los Angeles. But as fossil fuels became politically unfashionable, California’s oil production has steadily fallen, to just 340,000 bpd last year.
Among the handful of San Joaquin supergiants that have given up more than 1 billion barrels of crude oil during their lifetimes, is the 47,000-acre Elk Hills field. Most of the elk herds in the area have been replaced by thousands of “nodding donkey” sucker rod pumps, sometimes placed just a few feet apart, slowly pulling up oil. It’s a relic of the fossil fuel age that is still a common sight in west Texas and Oklahoma, but is quite a spectacle under the green guises of the Golden State.
Look past appearances, says Francisco Leon, chief executive of publicly-traded California Resources Corp. which in early February inked a $2 billion deal to merge with Aera Energy, another operator of aging supergiant fields near Bakersfield. The aged California oil fields, littered with creaking pumps, are now producing some of the “greenest” oil in the world, precisely because California environmental regulations are so stringent.
Francisco Leon became CEO of CRC a year ago after serving as CFO. He started his career at energy investment bank Petrie Parkman.
“We’re convinced that oil and gas are needed, but it should be lower carbon intensity oil like ours, with no flaring and no fracking,” says Leon, 47. CRC sustainability officer Chris Gould says they started caring about reducing emissions decades ago, and have made a lot of progress in electrifying nearly all their equipment, enabling the company to tap the solar-heavy California grid.
According to the California Air Resources board, the state produces some of the world’s lowest carbon intensity oil, with Bakersfield and Kern County fields coming in around 8 grams of CO2 equivalent emissions per megajoule of energy produced. Saudi Arabian oil ranks around 9 grams, while Russia is at 12, and Canada’s oil sands nearly 30 grams.
Now CRC is looking to make its operations not just low-carbon, but carbon negative. There’s a section of Elk Hills with no oil wells; the underground geology is similar, but natural processes never filled up the porous rock layers with oil. That’s too bad if you’re scouting for petroleum, but great if you’re looking for a place to store a different fluid — like carbon dioxide. If all its pending EPA permits come through, CRC will launch a multi-billion-dollar project at Elk Hills called Carbon TerraVault to capture carbon dioxide, compress and inject it 5,000 feet down into the earth where they say it will get soaked up into the rock and trapped for eternity. Why would they want to do that? To slow global warming, of course, and to collect $85 per sequestered ton of federal green tax credits.
No wonder, says Leon,“Pore space is our most valuable future asset class.”
Globally, carbon capture and sequestration is becoming a big deal, and already there are about a dozen projects operating in places like Norway, Australia and Algeria. California has set a target of injecting 65 million tons by 2045 (15% of state emissions). The Department of Energy envisions sequestration of 250 million tons a year nationwide by 2035. CRC was early to the game, submitting a plan to the EPA in 2021 seeking approval for the Class VI wells they would use to inject compressed carbon dioxide deep into a layer of porous sandstone rock. “The capital is there, the appetite is there,” says Leon, who was named CEO last year after serving as CFO.
CRC celebrated in December when the EPA announced it was satisfied with CRC’s application and would move it to the next step: three rounds of public comments. After that, if the application clears EPA’s final hurdles, the project will go up for a vote before the Kern County Board of Supervisors, maybe even by mid 2024.
CRC already has big backers. Private equity giant Brookfield has pledged $500 million from its $15 billion Global Transition Fund toward a joint venture with CRC called Carbon TerraVault, which aims to eventually sequester 200 million tons of CO2. In time the Brookfield-CRC joint venture hopes to build a “net-zero industrial park” with production of hydrogen and fertilizer and machines that pull carbon dioxide right out of the air.
Elk Hills was previously owned by Occidental Petroleum, which acquired it in 1998 from the federal government’s strategic petroleum program for $3.6 billion. Oxy also operated vast fields in west Texas, and became adept at so-called secondary recovery techniques — injecting tired old oil fields with high pressure water, steam, or CO2, to loosen up and force out more oil.
Unwilling to navigate California’s regulatory hurdles, Oxy decided to spin off all its California assets in 2014, loading them up with $6 billion of debt. Then, the oil downturn hit and CRC wound up filing bankruptcy. In October 2020 the company emerged from Chapter 11 after exchanging $4.4 billion of this debt for new equity. Old equity holders including Leon, who joined CRC from Oxy before the bankruptcy, were wiped out.
Unburdened by the debt it inherited from Occidental Petroleum, California Resources’ balance sheet is looking considerably stronger. According to its most recent SEC filings, it carries about $500 million in cash against $1 billion in long-term liabilities. For the nine months ending September 2023 it reported net income of $376 million on revenue of $2 billion.
Assuming CRC completes its freshly announced merger with Aera Energy, it expects the combined company to produce 160,000 barrels per day and some $700 million a year in free cash flow. The company says that the deal would double the amount of “premium pore space” in the San Joaquin Valley primed for CO2 injection.
To fund the buildout of all the pipes and wells and processing plants for the CarbonTerraVault project, without plunging back into debt, CRC will need more capital. Mark Viviano, portfolio manager at $4.7 billion investment fund Kimmeridge Energy Management (which owns 5.1% of CRC shares), has an idea for how to do it: the company should monetize a large tract of Huntington Beach real estate it owns. A century ago Huntington Beach, like much of the Los Angeles basin, was covered in hundreds of oil wells pumping from what were then some of the world’s biggest oil fields. The Huntington Beach field was discovered in 1920, and though most traces of the industry are gone now, replaced with an upscale beach community, nicknamed Surf City USA. Big Oil’s legacy lives on; the high school’s team name is the Oilers, its logo a derrick, mascot is Oil Man. A last vestige is 90 acres of beachfront property on the Pacific Coast Highway, north of the luxe enclave Newport Beach, where CRC continues to operate a small oil field producing 3,000 barrels per day.
Within five years of being discovered in 1919, the Huntington Beach oil field boasted hundreds of derricks producing 30 million barrels per year.
Viviano believes that given CRC’s carbon sequestration opportunities, it’s time to think of higher and better uses for this 3.9 million square feet contiguous lot with an unobstructed mile-long ocean view. Last year Bank of America oil analyst Doug Leggate figured CRC could get $700 million for the land, net of the costs of environmental cleanup. David McLeod, an agent with Coldwell Banker in Huntington Beach says that’s too high. Because the 90 acres is zoned commercial (ideal for resort/hotel) it would probably sell for no higher than $4 million an acre, or about $350 million, after all the oil wells have been plugged. “Yes they would have to remediate, and get the coastal commission to sign off,” says Viviano, who in recent years pushed successfully for asset sales at Ovintiv and Chesapeake Energy.
Leon is coy on the potential of a billion-dollar real estate payday. It’s for sale, but “we have not put a number on it,” he says. “We’re still producing from a very profitable oil field.” To test the waters, CRC has already put on the market a 1-acre lot just down the street. Estimated asking price for a “clean” site: $25 million.
What could go wrong with injecting carbon dioxide? Well, says Ted Borrego, an attorney who specializes in oil and gas leases, “you don’t want it escaping.” Borrego, who also lectures at the University of Houston, references a few worst-case scenarios, like in 2020 when Denbury Resources suffered a catastrophic leak on a 24-inch pipeline carrying CO2 in Mississippi. Because gas is heavier than air, it wafted downhill in a green cloud hugging the ground and enveloped the town of Sartartia, where according to a federal investigation 45 people were sent to the hospital with breathing problems. In November, ExxonMobil acquired Denbury, which signed a consent decree promising to improve its safety features, for $4.9 billion and will leverage Denbury’s carbon dioxide assets in its own sequestration push.
Other CO2 developers have plunged ahead. Occidental is pursuing its own sequestration track in the Permian basin of Texas. Summit Carbon Solutions, backed by billionaire Harold Hamm, has a consortium of ethanol plants in the Midwest that intend to capture their carbon emissions (from fermentation) and send them via hundreds of miles of pipelines to North Dakota for injection into the ground. Summit has taken flak for using eminent domain laws to condemn and seize rights of way for their pipeline path.
Borrego says what CRC has going for it at Elk Hills is that they control the surface and mineral rights in their entirety. In many oil regions with geologic formations suitable for sequestration — like Texas and Louisiana — ownership of minerals and surface rights are sliced and diced; they can’t force property owners to accept CO2 injection underneath their land. “This is not a slam dunk. You need a large tract of land, pipelines to get it there, and once injected the plume has to be monitored for years,” says Borrego. “Landowners are saying, wait a second, my grandchildren are going to be saddled with this?”
Discovered by Standard Oil, Elk Hills was central to the Teapot Dome Scandal in 1922, then became a Naval Petroleum Reserve before being sold to Occidental in 1997.
Still, it’’ impossible for developers to ignore generous incentives being offered including the Inflation Reduction Act’s promise of $85 in federal tax credits per ton of carbon dioxide sequestered. Says Borrego: “Tax credits and deductions, that’s what makes the economics work.”
Leon agrees that the federal carbon sequestration tax credits should help make Carbon TerraVault a profitable operation for CRC and partner Brookfield. But he insists they would be pursuing this strategy even without the generous boost from the Inflation Reduction Act. As the EPA’s convoluted Class VI Permits Tracker shows, CRC’s Elk Hills sequestration project is farthest along the permitting path in large part because they submitted it earliest.
Over the next few months the EPA is hosting three public comment sessions about CRC’s San Joaquin Valley sequestration plan and if approved by the EPA and Kern County Board of Supervisors the project could be up and running by the summer.
Fund manager Viviano would love to see carbon sequestration to revive other megafields in the San Joaquin basin. He sees CRC expanding the planning and permitting work they’ve started at Elk Hills over to the Midway-Sunset and Belridge fields coming via the merger with Aera.
Per a 2022 law, California requires that oilfield carbon sequestration projects only inject CO2 into rock formations that contain no oil — politicians didn’t want to inadvertantly encourage oil companies to produce more oil in the process of storing CO2. In the long run, though, pols might want to revisit that ban — oil companies have long established that injected CO2 is highly effective at displacing stubborn petroleum molecules stuck in rock interstices. Either way, CRC says its clean California petroleum already sells at a premium.
“By saying you don’t want California oil, you’re saying you want it from Texas or the Middle East,” says Viviano. “We should want public companies with stringent environmental rules to control more of the assets.”

Premium Domain Names:

A premium domain name is a highly sought-after domain that is typically short, memorable, and contains popular keywords or phrases. These domain names are considered valuable due to their potential to attract more organic traffic and enhance branding efforts. Premium domain names are concise and usually consist of one to two words or two to four individual characters.

Top-Level Domain Names for Sale on

If you are looking for top-level domain names for sale, you can visit is a platform that offers a selection of domain names at various price ranges. It is important to note that the availability of specific domain names may vary, and it’s recommended to check the website for the most up-to-date information.

Contact at

If you have any inquiries or need assistance regarding the domain names available on, you can reach out to them via email at Feel free to contact them for any questions related to the domain names or the purchasing process.

Availability on,, and

Apart from, you can also explore other platforms like,, and for available domain names. These platforms are popular marketplaces for buying and selling domain names. Each platform may have its own inventory of domain names, so it’s worth checking multiple sources to find the perfect domain name for your needs.

#PremiumDomains #DomainInvesting #DigitalAssets #DomainMarketplace #DomainFlipping #BrandableDomains #DomainBrokers #DomainAcquisition #DomainPortfolio #DomainIndustry #DomainAuctions #DomainInvestors #DomainSales #DomainExperts #DomainValue #DomainBuyers #DomainNamesForSale #DomainBrand #DomainInvestment #DomainTrading

About us and this blog

We are a digital marketing company with a focus on helping our customers achieve great results across several key areas.

Request a free quote

We offer professional SEO services that help websites increase their organic search score drastically in order to compete for the highest rankings even when it comes to highly competitive keywords.

Subscribe to our newsletter!

There is no form with title: "SEOWP: MailChimp Subscribe Form – Vertical". Select a new form title if you rename it.

More from our blog

See all posts

Leave a Comment