Residents in the Jefferson Park area of Los Angeles continue to protest operations at an urban drilling site, which recently changed ownership to privately held Sentinel Peak Resources California LLC.

Sentinel was the operator at the controversial oil production site even before completing its purchase at the beginning of the year from Phoenix-based Freeport-McMoRan Inc. The $742 million deal included all of Freeport's onshore California properties.

Residents near the drilling area attended a city zoning hearing last week demanding "adequate and equitable protections" against Sentinel Peak's operations, which they allege have inadequate buffering. "Oil and waste wells operate as close as 60 feet away from residents' bedroom windows," said a spokesperson for the South Los Angeles community.

The hearing was held in response toa petition filed last year by Redeemer Community Partnership and Earthjustice, which have petitioned the Los Angeles Planning Department.

An attorney for the residents and Earthjustice said last week’s hearing was a positive sign that the city is taking "the first step in addressing the community's valid concerns."

Sentinel was formed last year by Quantum Energy Partners and veteran California oil/gas executive Michael Duginski. Since then it has grown to 250 employees as it bids to become a major player in California.

The acquisition of the Freeport assets, which produce about 28,000 boe/d, "provides the foundation to build a world-class, California-focused oil and gas company," Duginski said. Sentinel has its eye on a number of other assets in California that are "attractive in the current price environment.”

Meanwhile, residents near the Jefferson Park drill site, which produces about 300 boe/d, continue to complain about odors and noise.

On a fourth quarter earnings conference call last week, Freeport executives said with recent asset sales, including some Gulf of Mexico (GOM) properties, the oil/gas unit will focus on South Louisiana onshore production, offshore California and the GOM Outer Continental Shelf.