An oil exploration company whose efforts to extract oil from beneath the pristine Huasna Valley were shot down by San Luis Obispo County supervisors last summer has sued for $6.24 billion, claiming that the county’s actions rendered its mineral rights valueless.
In a suit filed Nov. 19 in Superior Court, Excelaron LLC says the county’s denial of its application Aug. 21 constitutes a “regulatory taking of (its) property” without just compensation.
Excelaron said it “has suffered a complete denial of all use and value in its property.”
It calculated what it considers proper compensation in the following way:
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The 720-acre oil field, Excelaron asserts, sits atop 208,000,000 barrels of oil. At $100 per barrel, the gross value of the oil in the reservoir is $20.8 billion. Of that, 30 percent is recoverable, or $6.24 billion worth.
County Supervisor Adam Hill said the amount being sought makes this one of the largest, if not the largest lawsuit in San Luis Obispo County's history.
Excelaron also wants attorney’s fees and other expenses. It didn’t list them, but in its petition, Excelaron complains that it spent more than half a million dollars, much of it on an environmental impact report, to have its application reviewed.
It also claimed that the planning department blindsided it one week before the Planning Commission hearing by opposing the application.
The legal filing is a litany of what Excelaron considers ill treatment by the county, leading it to conclude that “the county’s actions were arbitrary and capricious (and) the county acted with blatant regard for (Excelaron’s) rights.”
The controversial proposal roused strong opposition in both Arroyo Grande and Huasna, a bucolic corner of San Luis Obispo County 10 miles east of Arroyo Grande.
County supervisors said an oil field is incompatible with the rural and isolated valley. Others worried about increased fire danger, traffic, safety and noise.
Claims made in civil suits give only one side of a case.