Elk Hills Field

The Elk Hills Field is California Resources Corporation’s (CRC) onshore asset located 20 miles west of Bakersfield in Kern County. The field, covering nearly 75 square miles, was discovered in 1911 and has produced over 2 billion barrels of oil equivalent (BOE), making it one of the most productive fields in the United States. During 2021, we produced 40,000 BOE per day (40 percent of CRC’s total production) on average from our wells at Elk Hills.

The operations at Elk Hills include a state-of-the-art consolidated control facility, remote automation control on over 95 percent of wells, and integrated production facilities for economies of scale, all of which result in high operational efficiencies.

CRC operates Elk Hills Power Plant, a 550-megawatt (MW) natural gas, combined-cycle power plant that supplies electricity to the Elk Hills Field and supplies excess power to a local utility and California's electric grid.

CRC also operates efficient natural gas processing facilities including a state-of-the-art cryogenic gas plant in California, with a combined gas processing capacity of over 520 million cubic feet per day (MMcf/d), and a 45-MW cogeneration plant to provide steam and electricity to the field as needed.

Beyond CRC’s essential role in supplying Californians with low carbon intensity oil, natural gas and natural gas liquids (NGLs), and electricity, federal and state resource agencies have recognized CRC for our commitment to environmental stewardship at Elk Hills. CRC established an 8,000-acre habitat conservation area and received a 50-year state permit in 2016 that will preserve at full field development an additional 17,500 acres in perpetuity, for a total conservation area equivalent to over half the surface area of the Elk Hills field and over 25 percent of CRC’s total surface acreage. CRC’s habitat conservation program, which is certified by the Wildlife Habitat Council, also includes operating practices to protect unique plant and animal species and cultural resources at Elk Hills and western Kern County.


Bill Dixon, Retired Elk Hills Engineer: I started working at Elk Hills in February 1977 after graduating from Oklahoma State University. I’ve worked out in the field. I’ve worked my way into engineering. California Resources Corporation cares very much about the environment. Here at Elk Hills, we operate this field in a transparent mode. Elk Hills has been a great place to work to provide for my family. It has paid for my house and put two kids through college. Plus, CRC, their motto is “For California by Californians” and the people that work out here take great pride in what they do. People that I know firsthand that operate Elk Hills, they operate like their family is living next door.

Blodgie Rodriguez, Hispanic Community Leader: My family has been here for 100 years in Kern County. The oil and gas industry has been very instrumental in my family. Kern County is ag and oil-based. My father was in agriculture and my mother was in oil, so it’s very much part of the thread of my family. 80% of the state’s oil is produced out of Kern County; Therefore, there are a lot of jobs that it creates, and there was a trickle-down effect when people are working small businesses, our thriving families have places to live, so it’s very important here in Kern County. In all my years, I’ve never once had a conversation or heard anybody stating that they wish Elk Hills would go away. They are a huge asset to our community.

David Couch, Supervisor, Kern County District 4: I can tell you firsthand if Elk Hills didn’t exist, we’d have a huge, huge problem on our hands just to be able to deliver basic services – Sheriffs on the street, police officers on the street, teachers in the classroom. It all starts with somebody paying their property tax and paying their sales tax and CRC is the second largest property taxpayer in Kern County, so it’s pretty important. Twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, Elk Hills is producing a product that we all use every single day and we think nothing of it, we take it for granted. It impacts the waitress in the diner as they’re serving the guys going out to Elk Hills at six o’clock in the morning. It has a ripple effect probably seven or eight times each dollar that then payroll at Elk Hills is then paying someone. On top of that, charitable contributions that are made, homeless collaborators and those sorts of things also impact the community in a variety of ways. It would be felt by everyone if Elk Hills didn’t exist.

John Spaulding, Executive Secretary, Building & Trades Council: If people would really realize what they’re thinking when they talk about shutting down a whole industry, they’re forgetting about the people that are working in that industry. CRC is absolutely a good neighbor. They have been just an outstanding company to work with and to work for. Our members are very pleased to be able to work for them whether it’s on Elk Hills or any other locations that they have employment. We’re talking about people that live here and we’re talking about oil companies that care about the environment. I often say they’re good stewards of the land.

Casey Prohaska, Facilities Engineer, CRC: As the Sustainability team, we want to be good stewards of the Earth. It matters to me and it matters to California Resources Corporation. At Elk Hills, we have state-of-the-art control facilities monitoring all of our wells, our gas compressor stations, as well as our cryogenic gas plant. We have operators that man it twenty-four hours a day remotely. The whole field can be watched from one room. Today, we’ve electrified all of our pumping units and that electricity is provided by the gas that we produce here at Elk Hills and we have a power plant on-site. We’re completely self-sufficient. We don’t use any power from the grid. It’s important for California Resources Corporation to be allowed to continue to operate in the state because if it becomes impossible to operate, then these resources that we provide will be outsourced from the other regions in the world – like form South America or from the Middle East where there’s concerns about human rights.

Nick Ortiz, President, Bakersfield Chamber of Commerce: In Kern County, we’re so proud of the oil industry. We’re so proud of the people who work in it. When you look at an asset like Elk Hills and look at the investment that has been made there in order to ensure that that field continues to produce in a way that’s applying 50% of natural gas production in state, you really get a sense that California Resources Corporation is invested in that field. We live here, we work here, we raise our families here. Our concern is that we are able to continue to produce this resource, that we are able to continue to provide great jobs, great wages, and that we are going to continue to have the quality of life in kern County that we’ve been protecting for decades.

Dedicated to the people of Kern County.

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CalCapture CCS+ Project

CRC is focused on maximizing the value of our land, mineral and technical resources for decarbonization by developing carbon capture and storage and other emissions reducing projects. CalCapture is CRC’s carbon capture and storage+ (CCS+) project that will capture carbon dioxide (CO2) from the Elk Hills Power Plant and inject that CO2 deep underground for permanent sequestration in oil producing reservoirs. This project has the potential to produce California's first full-scope "net zero" barrel of oil made in California by Californians.

The United Nations has stated that carbon capture technology is necessary to meet the goal of the Paris Climate Accord to limit temperature rise to less than 2 degrees Celsius by 2050.

Through CRC’s CalCapture CCS+ project, the equivalent emissions from 300,000 gas-fueled passenger vehicles will effectively be removed each year, and emissions from the Elk Hills Power Plant will be significantly reduced, further supporting California’s climate goals and the Paris Climate Accord.

The International Energy Agency calls carbon capture “one of the only technology solutions that can significantly reduce emissions from…power generation and deliver the deep emissions reductions needed across key industrial processes…, all of which will remain vital building blocks of modern society.” Similarly, the California Energy Commission has previously identified the Elk Hills Field as “an optimal site for the safe and secure sequestration of CO2” and “one of the premier…sequestration sites in the U.S."

CRC partnered with the Electric Power Research Institute and Fluor Corporation to complete an initial Front-End Engineering Design (FEED) study for the Elk Hills CalCapture project. A FEED study analyzes technology requirements, scope, schedule, and costs associated with a project. The FEED study received financial assistance from both the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) – one of only nine carbon capture projects around the country that DOE selected in 2019 – and from the climate investment arm of the Oil and Gas Climate Initiative (OGCI).

In April 2022, CRC entered into an agreement with NEXT Carbon Solutions (NCS), a subsidiary of NextDecade Corporation, to further explore the decarbonization of CRC’s Elk Hills power plant through the application of NCS' proprietary post-combustion carbon capture processes for the CalCapture project. Pursuant to this agreement, NCS will perform a new FEED study for the post combustion capture and compression of up to 95% of the CO2 produced at the Elk Hills power plant. CRC expects this FEED study to commence in the second quarter of 2022 and is projected to take approximately six months to complete. During the FEED, CRC and NCS expect to finalize definitive commercial documents allowing the CalCapture CCS+ project to proceed with a final investment decision following completion of the FEED. During the CalCapture CCS+ project, CRC is targeting initial injection of 1.4 million metric tons of CO2 per year and averaging approximately 7,000 incremental barrels of "net zero" oil per day over the life of project.

CRC has partnered with OGCI Climate Investments to form a joint venture, Elk Hills Carbon LLC. OGCI Climate Investments has invested in Elk Hills Carbon LLC and will provide technical input into the project. CRC envisions CalCapture as the central component of a robust future carbon capture network in California. Learn more by checking out our CalCapture fact sheet (PDF).