Over the years, as air quality in various locations in California and the nation worsened, including Bakersfield and the San Joaquin Valley, government mandated regulations to curb air pollution forced a switch from solid and liquid fuels to the burning of natural gas. Oil companies that routinely burned diesel fuel (sometimes even crude oil) in their steam generators and process heaters began switching to gas fired units in order to comply with stringent new emission limits.
It may come as a surprise to some Kern County residents that the largest natural gas producing field in California is found just a few short miles from Bakersfield. The field is so big that it produces 3 times as much gas as the 4 next largest producers in the county combined!
Here is a list of the 5 top natural gas producing fields in Kern County. A few of them, but not all, are also included in the list of the 5 biggest crude oil producers in the county.
The production data shown is from 2012 and provided by the California Division of Oil, Gas, and Geothermal Resources (DOGGR).
The Midway-Sunset Field, discovered in 1894, is the largest oilfield in California and the third largest in the United States. It also is one of the 5 largest natural gas producers in Kern County.
Located near Taft, California, the field is roughly east of Maricopa and south of McKittrick. In 2012, Midway-Sunset produced approximately 4.9 billion scf of natural gas, making it the 5th largest producer of natural gas in Kern County.
The Buena Vista field, on the outskirts of Taft, California, was discovered in 1909. Although it is the 10th largest oilfield in California, most of its crude oil reserves have been exhausted. Over its lifetime it has produced less than a billion barrels of oil, however, it still produces natural gas.
In 2012, the Buena Vista field produced approximately 5.2 billion scf of natural gas, making it the 4th largest gas producer in Kern County.
The Lost Hills field is located near the town of Lost Hills, California, between Interstate 5 and California Highway 33. It’s only the 18th largest oilfield in the state, but, has significant undeveloped oil that make it 6th in crude oil reserves.
However, it also has a large amount of gas reserves, making it the third largest gas producer in Kern County. In 2012, almost 8.4 billion scf of natural gas was recovered from the Lost Hills field.
The South Belridge field is located about forty miles west of Bakersfield. In addition to its natural gas production, it is the 4th largest oilfield in California and the 6th largest, production wise, in the country, producing over 1.5 billion barrels of oil since 1911.
In 2012, the field produced 9.7 billion scf of natural gas, making it the 2nd largest natural gas producer in Kern County
Formerly known as the Naval Petroleum Reserve, the Elk Hills field is located about 20 miles west of Bakersfield. Although it has produced over 1.3 billion barrels of crude oi since 1911, making it the 5th largest oilfield in California, its oil production is overshadowed by its natural gas production.
Elk Hills is the largest natural gas field in California. It’s production of natural gas is more than 3 times the total natural gas production of the next 4 largest gas producers in Kern County combined!
In 2012, Elk Hills produced over 106 billion scf of natural gas.