Huasna Valley residents are in an uproar following a discovery that the oil company Excelaron’s partners may have a close connection with a company that sought oil in the valley 20 years ago—and left it in shambles.
“We’ve been suspicious of who they were all along,” HVA coordinator Ron Skinner said.
Skinner’s group, comprised mainly of ranchers and farmers, has been heavily involved in dredging up old well reports, information about mineral rights, and anything relating to the valley’s 100-year history with oil. The group has found what it says are numerous inconsistencies between documents given to the county by Excelaron and information publicized by Excelaron’s partners. Now, they claim oil speculators responsible for abandoning several wells in the ’80s are involved with the project now before the county.
In 1985 a company called Deuel Petroleum Company, Inc., owned by Warren William Perrine, took control of several wells in the area. Those wells were abandoned shortly after they were tested, leaving a mess that threatened the valley aquifers. According to well records filed with the state, Perrine, as head of Deuel, walked away from the Huasna oil field, and his creditors. Now, HVA suspects that Perrine is back, using a new name.
In 2006, before Excelaron was widely known locally, its Australian parent company—Australian Oil Company—told investors about the Huasna project in a quarterly report, saying a man named William Divine owned 50 percent of Excelaron, and AOC owned the other half.
Huasna residents say they used a private company to perform a name search on William Divine and found that he used to be called Warren William Perrine—the former owner of Deuel. According to county records, Deuel Petroleum changed its name to United Hydrocarbons—also a part owner of Excelaron now—and gave Excelaron access to mineral holdings in Huasna.
Excelaron officials did not make themselves available for comment.
The new project will go before the Planning Commission March 26. Excelaron is seeking a conditional use permit to test oil wells.
“The project description,” Skinner said, “has not been adequately described or transparent enough to be reviewed properly. And the fact that the applicants are actually the previous operators in disguise lends credence to our claim that the project has not been fully disclosed to the public.”