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Central Region Publications

Bulletin 2172-H

Growth History of Oil Reserves in Major California Oil Fields During the Twentieth Century

By M.E. Tennyson

Chapter H of
Geologic, Engineering, and Assessment Studies of Reserve Growth

Edited by
T.S. Dyman, J.W. Schmoker, and Mahendra Verma

Version 1.0
Published 7 April 2005

Oil reserves in 12 of California’s 52 giant fields have continued to appreciate well past the age range at which most fields cease to show significant increases in ultimate recovery. Growth of reserves in these fields accelerated in the 1950s and 1960s and is mostly explained by application of secondary and tertiary recovery techniques. The remaining three-fourths of California’s giant fields show a pattern of growth in which fields cease to grow significantly by 20–30 years following discovery. Three of six offshore giant fields, all discovered between 1966 and 1981, have shown decreases in their estimated ultimate sizes within about the first decade after production began, presumably because production volumes failed to match initial projections.

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