Orange County Register- December 4, 2023
As California’s energy transition continues and the state works toward a more sustainable energy future, it is essential that we embrace solutions that provide affordable energy to meet the needs of our communities and support our work toward meeting the state’s ambitious climate goals.
How does California achieve both goals? The answer lies right here at home. Thanks to advanced technology, we can safely produce low-carbon intensity oil and natural gas here in California.
We have innovative carbon management solutions to help California meet its decarbonization goals using technologies such as carbon capture and storage and direct air capture. Carbon storage projects intend to safely inject CO2 captured from essential industrial sources, such as power and cement plants, into underground reservoirs and permanently store that CO2 deep underground – and this CO2 will not be used for enhanced oil recovery.
I recently toured the THUMS islands in Long Beach and witnessed low-carbon intensity oil production that supports California’s journey to a Net-Zero future. The islands were first built in the 1960s by the state to access the Wilmington Field, the fourth-largest oil field in the country.
Today, the islands are owned by the state of California and the city of Long Beach while California Resources Corporation, an independent energy and carbon management company, serves as the field operator. The wells and drilling rigs on the islands are all-electric and have minimal emissions associated with them just like the electric vehicles that we plug into our grid.
In 2021, per the South Coast Air Quality Management District, THUMS oil operations had less particulate matter emissions than a local large university, several industrial facilities, and LAX. In the last 20 years, oil production from the THUMS islands has provided more than $5.5 billion in revenue to local municipalities and the state based on the government’s share of ownership in these operations and from fees and taxes.
While the use of renewable energy continues to grow, California has high energy needs as the second-largest total energy consumer among the 50 states, the largest consumer of jet fuel and the second-largest consumer of motor gasoline. California imports approximately 75% of its oil, 90% of its natural gas and 31% of its electricity.
In 2022 alone, California imported more than 300 million barrels of foreign oil – equating to the state sending more than $30 billion to countries including Saudi Arabia, Ecuador, Iraq, Brazil and Colombia. This imported oil has a higher carbon
intensity and is produced from regions that do not share our state’s leading values and environmental standards.
According to the California Air Resources Board, the 2022 annual crude average carbon intensity of oil production in Long Beach, which includes THUMS islands, was 57% lower than the average carbon intensity of crude supply to California refineries, which includes all imports and other domestic crude production that is refined in the state.
If we are serious about protecting our environment and lowering carbon emissions and health impacts from air emissions, we should prioritize domestically produced low-carbon intensity production like that from the THUMS islands in Long Beach as the solution.
I am confident that my fellow elected officials, business and community leaders, and residents can work together to meet California’s energy needs and climate goals. We need to prioritize local energy production and carbon management solutions while empowering our local communities through the energy transition.