A year-long study has concluded that hydraulic fracturing (fracking) in an urban oilfield in the Los Angeles area will not harm the environment.

In a 206-page report released Wednesday, environmental consulting firm Cardno Entrix concluded that fracking in the 1,200-acre Inglewood Oil Field would not harm surrounding residential areas, including Baldwin Hills, Culver City and Inglewood, CA.

Houston-based Plains Exploration and Production Co. (PXP), which owns and operates the oilfield, paid for the study as part of a settlement agreement with Culver City and several civic and environmental groups (see Shale Daily, June 26). The results of the study were also reviewed by two undisclosed environmental consulting firms, as required by Los Angeles County.

“There were eight contributing studies addressing such things as vibrations at the surface, microseismic activity at depth, noise, ground movement measurements, subsidence, groundwater quality, methane in both soil and groundwater,” Cardno Entrix technical director Dan Tormey told the Los Angeles Times. “Each was a study that contributed to the [overall] hydraulic fracturing study.”

The oilfield was mostly dormant until 2003 when PXP, through 3-D seismic drilling, found shale oil potential. County authorities halted exploration and production activities several times in response to complaints from the surrounding community. Civic and environmental groups then filed a lawsuit against PXP in 2008, alleging that the company hadn’t done enough to ensure environmental protections to the area.

Residents have reportedly complained about subsidence. Although Cardno Entrix said fracking was not responsible for the seismic activity, the oilfield area is near a major fault — Newport-Inglewood — which is capable of a 7.4 magnitude earthquake.

Gary Gless, a resident of the area and spokesman for Citizens Coalition for a Safe Community, told the Times that he was not surprised by the study’s findings. “We have to look at who the peer reviewers are and have other experts critique [the findings],” he said.

PXP has proposed drilling 50 new wells annually in the oilfield, which sits halfway between Hollywood to the north and Los Angeles International Airport to the south. The area is surrounded by high-priced residential areas in adjoining hills.

Nearly a century ago Southern California was found to have one of the largest fossil fuel basins in the world, and four years ago when global oil prices hit $150/bbl the region became a target for new activity. The state’s Monterey Shale is undergoing a resurgence in activity (see Shale Daily, July 5). Occidental Petroleum Corp. is the largest oil producer in the state, and the most active in the Monterey (see Shale Daily, April 27). However, the prospect and reality of more drilling has stirred concerns among communities that surround still-producing fields in southeast and west Los Angeles County, Long Beach and the Ventura area northwest of Los Angeles.