California Business

John Thomas (pictured) passed away on March 2, 2014 but he won't be forgotten.

Huntington Beach Oil Man Helps Drive Local Tourism Economy

John Thomas helps drive the economy of Huntington Beach with his oil business.

John Thomas is a veteran oil industry dignitary and longtime Huntington Beach resident who exemplifies the importance of the oil industry in helping drive the economy of the city and state.

Former Huntington Beach Mayor John Thomas, who served on the City Council for nine years in the 1970s, operates 100 oil wells in the area of HB's first big gusher. The hardworking oilman, said his wells produce between 300-400 barrels a day and the oil is sold to ConocoPhillips, Chevron and others.

One of his biggest fields-east of Edwards, near Ellis--is 70-acres and includes the famous "Bolsa Chica No. 1." Historians say this was HB's first well, discovered over 90 years ago. They say it came in as a gusher, reportedly producing more than 2,000 barrels a day. The first of five major oil booms turned the sleepy village into a fast-growing community, nicknamed "Oil City." Oil helped put Huntington Beach on the map and it looks like it's here to stay.

Thomas, the friendly son of a Long Beach oilman, said he has been working the area since the 1960s and there's still a lot of oil left. (Which is good news since the need for oil has never been greater as others search for alternative fuels.)

When driving up and down Edwards Hill between Talbert and Ellis streets, you'd hardly suspect the gas in your vehicle may have originated from nearby oil fields overlooking the Pacific Ocean. "Oil City" (the nickname for Huntington Beach after its initial strike) still lives, not as a memory but in reality. In fact, the tourism industry In Huntington Beach is literally fueled by this crude product that helps bring travelers to the city's shores.

Over 85% of visitors to Huntington Beach (and California) travel by car, often passing by the oil fields that are visible from several tourist attractions—Huntington City Beach, Dog Beach, Bolsa Chica State Beach and Bolsa Chica Ecological Reserve.



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