Oil and Gas Operations
Bureau of Land Management - Bakersfield Field Office
The BLM manages 15.2 million acres of surface and 47 million acres of mineral estate in California. Every day more than 500,000 barrels of oil are produced in California. As a state, California is the fourth largest oil producer; only Alaska, Texas, and Louisiana produce more. Considering BLM administered leases nationwide, California BLM is the fourth largest producer. Some of the highest producing federal onshore leases are in California.
Five of the ten most productive oil fields in the United States are in California, mostly in Kern County. Federal leases in California range in size from one well leases, producing only a barrel or two per day, up to a lease with over 1,200 wells producing more than 4,000 barrels per day. Approximately 7% of the total wells in California are federal wells. At 4,000-4,500 BPD, Chevron’s Section 22-G Lease in the Midway Sunset Field and USL Lease at Lost Hills are two of the highest producing onshore federal leases in the lower 48 states.
Inspection and Enforcement
BLM technicians are responsible for inspecting field operations, ensuring production accountability, and enforcing safety requirements on over three hundred producing leases and units containing more than 8,000 wells. Contact us at (661) 391-6130 for emergencies or same day witness, or (661) 391-6151 for 24 hour notification of witnessing (messages).
The BLM is also responsible for ensuring that oil and gas is not drained from federal lands without appropriate compensation from the federal lessee/operator. The Reservoir Management staff reviews all leases for drainage from offset wells, and if offset wells are determined to be draining oil from a federal lease, then the lessee/operator of the federal lease is required to drill a protective well, pay compensatory royalty, or enter into a protective agreement.
In early 1992, an Oil and Gas Work Group was established comprised of representatives from both government and industry. The mission of the Work Group is to promote the timely resolution of issues and to facilitate the sharing of information between the BLM, California Division of Oil, Gas, And Geothermal Resources (CDOGGR), and the Oil & Gas Industry. The Work Group is also responsible for developing and overseeing subgroups to ensure timely resolution of issues. This Group has been very successful in developing methods to resolve a number of issues of concern to industry. These successes are exemplified in the resolution of issues related to:
- Surface Casing Requirements in relation to aquifer protection
- Blowout Preventers/Diverter Systems
- Oilfield Surface Impoundment Closure Requirements
- Idle Well Policy (Classification/Testing Requirements)
- Annual Joint Meetings
- Well Abandonments
- Electronic Commerce
- Idle and Orphan Well Subcommittee (acute orphan well legislation)
The Work Group has also served very well to improve communication and working relationships between the BLM and other regulatory agencies such as the CDOGGR. As part of that commitment to improve communications, we regularly conduct BLM Operator Seminars that are designed to familiarize both operators and other agencies with the entire scope of BLM responsibilities on federal oil and gas leases.
Orphan and Idle Wells
We have been proactive in developing a program to remediate our large number of orphan and idle wells. BLM is a full partner in the Idle Well Subcommittee of the Conservation Committee of California Oil and Gas Producers (CCCOGP). Through this subcommittee, BLM is working with CDOGGR and industry to address idle well issues on both federal and private lands in California. In 1998 SB1763, with language provided by the subcommittee, passed the state legislature and was signed into law. This legislation required, effective January 1999, that California oil and gas producers choose from a list of options designed to decrease numbers of long-term idle wells in the state. It requires either (1) dramatically increasing bond coverage on all leases with long-term idle wells; (2) paying increased idle well fees; or (3) submitting a plan to reduce idle well numbers by a specified yearly amount. This legislation also increased the State's existing idle/deserted well abatement fund to $1 million per year. In fact, using those funds to match BLM funds, from 2002 to 2003 we abandoned and reclaimed the surface of 118 orphan wells and three sumps in a joint effort between the CDOGGR and BLM. Largely as a result of the cooperative efforts between the BLM and CDOGGR, there were 1,000 federal wells abandoned between FY 2002 and FY 2006, over twice as many as in the previous five-year period.
Automated Fluid Minerals Support System (AFMSS)
The Bakersfield Field Office continues to provide leadership in further development of the Automated Fluid Minerals Support System (AFMSS). The AFMSS program has become an integral part of day-to-day business, and progress continues to be made. In fact, we had our first permit that was received, processed, and approved entirely electronically in June 2002. We are continuing our efforts to coordinate with the CDOGGR with the goal that an operator can submit one permit which will automatically be routed to the proper agency, and a single approval by either agency can be automatically transmitted and formatted for the other agency's database.
BLM 2010 California Oil and Gas statistics:
Total number of Leases
Total acres under lease
Federal oil production (barrels)
Federal gas production (billion cubic feet)
Producing oil & gas wells
Total revenues (royalty, bonus, and rents)
Oil and Gas Links
2009 Operator Seminar - Get a free CD of the complete 2009 Oil and Gas Operator Seminar Handout by calling the BLM Bakersfield Office at 661-391-6000. A printed version of the handout is also available for $20. Please send a check or money order to the address below or call the BLM Bakersfield Office at 661-391-6000 for more information.
Bureau of Land Management
Bakersfield Field Office - Minerals Division
3801 Pegasus Drive
Bakersfield, CA 93308