This week, I heard that there is talk of fracking in the Inglewood oil field here in Los Angeles. I used to go through that oil field every day on my way to and from work back in my Hughes Aircraft days in the late ’80s. That got me to remember how I’d done a bike tour a few years ago to see some of the disguised oil wells that are scattered around Los Angeles. And just to add to that, my friend at work made up a map of all the oil drilling spots that he knew of in L.A., overlaid with all of the earthquakes in the basin for the last 30 years. It was interesting to see how there were some obvious clusters of small earthquakes around some of the oil fields. We’re having a heat wave this weekend, and heading west towards the coast meant it would be somewhat less hot for us. So I thought it was time to take the bike club on an oil field tour.
That is, of course, different from “a three-hour tour”. That’s a different 1960s TV show. This one is about the guy who struck oil and got rich. The funny thing is, Jed Clampett struck oil and got rich, so he moved to Beverly Hills, which sits on top of large oil field. Go figure.
Back in the 1960s, Standard Oil put out a brochure for homeowners in the west Los Angeles area to explain how they could be living on top of an active oil field. And through the magic of the Internet, we can read it today: http://www.scribd.com/doc/16684123/beverly-hills-oil-field-chevron-brochure
We started off by riding to downtown Los Angeles. Passing City Hall, we saw the preparations for Mayor Garcetti’s inauguration later in the day. Our first stop was the St. James Oil Company’s drilling yard just south of downtown. This is the only drilling island for the downtown oil field. We had visited this place once before, on the Tour de Oozing Oil in 2006.
We continued south out of downtown, and then headed west on Adams Blvd. Along the way, we passed a wall that we all thought looked like another oil island. I looked it up when I got home, and it was indeed one. It was the Adams and Gramercy drilling island, which is one of four on the Las Cienegas Oil Field, which goes roughly from about USC to somewhere west of Crenshaw. There are three other islands that work this field, so I see another oil field tour in our future.
The second official stop was the Pico and Genessee drilling island. This is the easternmost drilling site that taps the Beverly Hills Oil Field. The building looks like it could be a county administration building, complete with a big glass lobby in front, but it’s enclosed by a locked fence.
Continuing west, we came to the Cardiff well site at Pico and Doheny. This is a two-part site, with one building having a tall tower to enclose the drilling rig, and then a second building across the street that looks like a 1960s-style bank, where the storage tanks and so forth are kept.
It was about this time that I was talking to the group. We were talking about oil, thinking about oil, smelling oil. And I said, “this whole ride is about oil, so whose chain is squeaking?!?”
Our next sightseeing stop was the drilling center next to the Beverly Center. This one taps the Salt Lake Oil Field and the smaller San Vicente Oil Field. It’s so unobtrusive that most people who go to that mall don’t even notice that it’s there.
Heading east again, we passed Fairfax Ave and the exploding Ross Dress For Less store. Then we rode up the back side of The Grove to see one more drilling site that was recently shut down. That concluded our oil field tour, and we headed east to Hancock Park and bagels at Noah’s in Larchmont.
The trip home was pretty uneventful. Both John and GT got flats. By this time, it was pretty hot. and the last part of the ride began to resemble the Retreat from Moscow, but hot instead of cold. In Eagle Rock, Stewart took a detour on the sidewalk just to ride through some sprinklers. Still, we made it home all right. And it was a fun time.