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Citadel Exploration, Inc., which in July was found by a Monterey County judge to have not conducted the required environmental review on its Project Indian site, announced Wednesday that its first well at the site — the Indian #1-15 — has been producing approximately six barrels of oil per day over the past seven days. This is the first oil produced there after more than a century of exploration efforts in the area by Standard Oil and Chevron Corporation, Citadel said in a press release.

Last month’s ruling, in response to a lawsuit filed by San Benito Rising and the Center for Biological Diversity, also found that the county board of supervisors failed to consider development of the oil field beyond the initial 15 “pilot” wells, as required by the California Environmental Quality Act, and that the county failed to properly analyze the water usage, water pollution risks, greenhouse gas emissions, and threats to the California condor.

The company’s statement came after a Monterey County judge last month ruled Citadel failed to conduct a necessary environmental review before moving forward on its production. The judge ruled that the county board failed to properly weigh potential impacts through a full environmental impact review – saying officials bypassed the process in favor of a less time-consuming mitigated negative declaration – when supervisors in June 2013 approved the Project Indian well site.

Citadel, in its release, said it “believes its 688-acre lease contains an unrisked resource potential of 100 million barrels of original oil in place (OOIP). Historically, thermal recovery methods in California have proven to recover 20-60% of the OOIP.”

“Having worked on this project for over seven years, I can’t overstate the importance and magnitude of our discovery at Project Indian,” said Armen V. Nahabedian, president and CEO of Citadel Exploration. “We have gained valuable data on the properties of the oil and characteristics of the reservoir. We are confident enough with these early results to now move to Phase II of the project.”

Despite the judge’s ruling, Citadel said it plans to move into Phase II of the project, which will include preparing an Environment Impact Report (EIR) for full field development which will likely require several hundred wells. Additionally, the company said it is working with its engineers to purchase a steam generator, heated production facilities, a reverse osmosis water system and construct approximately one mile of pipeline to connect to the existing natural gas system in the area. 

Citadel’s release said the company “would like to thank the County of San Benito and its citizens for their support and approval of our project. Even with the recent adverse ruling by the Monterey County Superior Court Judge against the County and its approval of our project, we will continue to work with the County to defend our rights that our mineral lease has afforded us and develop this field with the highest standards of safety and 
environmental stewardship.”

To read the full press release from Citadel, including a timeline of the oil extraction at the Indian well site, click here.