Oxy ready to start up latest oil derrick

Oxy USA Inc. is set to start up its most recent oil derrick in Huntington Beach in search of more black gold, officials said.

Bill McFarland, the group's human resources manager, said the company expects the large structure near Pacific Coast Highway and Goldenwest Street to begin drilling sometime Wednesday after about a month of construction.

He added that no hydraulic fracturing, or fracking — a controversial process that involves injecting chemicals into the ground to break up the rocks — will be performed at the site.

The 136-foot structure, which loosely resembles a slimmer version of the Warner Avenue skyscraper at Beach Boulevard, was designed to look like a building to blend in with the urban environment and muffle sound, McFarland said.

"That rig was designed to operate in an urban environment, with its enclosed structure and soundproof material," he said.

McFarland added that a sound engineer will be on site to figure out ways to further mitigate any noise resulting from the drilling.

The company also plans to limit vehicle transportation to and from the facility to only daylight hours to help reduce any disturbance to neighbors.

Oxy, a subsidiary to Occidental Petroleum Corp., is planning to drill more than 85 new wells at the property over the next five years. It currently has about 180 at the site. McFarland said the time frame may change, depending on whether oil is found.

"If it's not successful, we're not going to keep drilling," he said. "We're hoping that it is successful and that we're able to drill it up. But the fact of the matter is it could be a little longer or shorter, just depending on results and future opportunities."

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