California Resources Corporation (CRC) uses state-of-the-art technologies to enable safe, environmentally responsible, highly productive and efficient operations. The operations team is at the frontline of CRC’s sustainability and environmental initiatives that maximize the efficiency of production while minimizing the footprint of our operations. Following are some key examples that contribute to our performance.
CRC applies the latest automation technology and surveillance software in conjunction with a centralized operating strategy to safely and efficiently operate wells, production facilities and gas plants across our extensive acreage. This combination of technology and operating philosophy promotes workplace health and safety, lowers operating costs, reduces downtime and variability, improves reliability, facilitates our extensive environmental monitoring, and extends the economic life of oil and gas fields.
For example, at CRC’s Elk Hills Field in Kern County, the 40,000-square-foot Consolidated Control Facility serves as the nerve center for oil and natural gas production, as well as the plants and facilities operated by CRC or our Elk Hills Power, LLC joint venture. The facility contains a central control room where technicians monitor and control production and injection wells, processing facilities, gas compression, gas plants and enhanced oil recovery facilities around the clock.
Most wells in California require additional energy to bring fluids to the surface as oil and gas reservoir pressure declines over time. A key solution is artificial lift, which provides energy to lift fluids to the surface and increase production from a well. Artificial lift is used on about 90 percent of CRC’s producing wells.
CRC invests in new technologies and techniques to optimize and extend production from artificial lift. The primary methods of artificial lift in use at CRC are beam lift, electric submersible pump (ESP), gas lift and progressive cavity pump (PCP).
Beam lift, the most common artificial lift method worldwide, consists of a beam unit (also called pumping unit or pump jack) on the surface, a downhole pump and rods that connect the two. Beam lift is the largest component of CRC's artificial lift, both in terms of number of wells and percentage of production, and CRC has pioneered new beam lift technologies at our Elk Hills Field. We operate central communication and analysis systems that monitor, control and optimize our beam units around the state.
ESPs consist of an electric motor and pump suspended near the bottom of a wellbore and connected to a power supply at the surface. ESPs can lift liquid at very high rates and are the workhorses of our artificial lift fleet in terms of total fluid production.
Gas lift injects gas into the fluid column in a wellbore, reducing the column's density to the point where reservoir pressure is sufficient to produce the fluid to the surface. This provides a powerful tool to optimize production in select fields.
PCPs are in use at many CRC operations. These pumps typically are used in medium to shallow depth wells, including steamflood wells, and fill a gap in rate between beam pumps and ESPs.
Well servicing comprises the many activities performed on wells, such as initial completion (opening the wellbore to its initial producing zone), re-completion into additional producing zones, sand control (placing a gravel layer between the well and the oil and gas formation to prevent sand or silt from blocking flow into the well), well maintenance to remove or prevent the build-up of solids, scale or wax in or near the well, diagnostics, pump or equipment replacement or repairs. CRC most often accomplishes the work using well servicing rigs, although rigless operations with coiled tubing also are common.
CRC has developed and deployed powerful tools and systems to achieve high performance in its well servicing operations. Well servicing trends and results are tracked to identify areas for improvement. In addition, software is integrated with other systems to aid in the scheduling of well servicing operations.
Asset integrity management refers to CRC’s comprehensive maintenance, mechanical integrity, quality assurance and corrosion management programs that are used to help ensure that key systems and equipment remain safe, reliable and fit for service over their life cycle.
Asset integrity is achieved by providing consistent programs for maintenance and mechanical integrity and comprises a combination of inspection, testing and maintenance requirements which include predictive, preventative and corrective processes. These individual programs cover maintenance of rotating equipment such as compressors, pumps, motors, generators and engines, and mechanical integrity of stationary equipment such as piping, pressure vessels, pipelines, electrical components, relief valves and atmospheric tanks.
CRC uses computerized maintenance and inspection management systems to facilitate scheduling of routines, data management, trending and analysis.
Elk Hills Power, LLC, a joint venture between CRC and a portfolio company of Ares Management, L.P., operates a state-of-the-art cryogenic gas processing plant at the Elk Hills Field in Kern County. The plant's capacity of 200 million cubic feet per day brings the total gas processing capacity at Elk Hills to more than 520 million cubic feet per day. This plant is the biggest in the state, bolstering Elk Hills' status as a regional gas hub for California.
Idle wells are valuable assets for which substantial resources have been invested in drilling, well construction and completion to produce from an oil and gas formation. Idle wells allow us to resume production from the original target formation, access additional hydrocarbon-bearing zones intersected by the well bore with recompletions, step out with directional drilling and reach additional oil and gas deposits, or implement enhanced recovery using recycled water, steam or carbon dioxide in future phases of development, all with smaller project footprints, lower energy use and emissions, and increased efficiency.
Responsible stewardship of idle wells is a strength of CRC. A hallmark of CRC’s operations is our life-of-field planning to advance our fields through the decades-long value recovery chain from primary production to improved or enhanced oil recovery methods to produce more of the existing oil in place and maximize the efficient use of existing wells and facilities. Idle wells have an essential role in this process, since they enable us to access formations through existing well bores rather than drilling new wells – thereby reducing our surface footprint, energy use and emissions.