News Release

For Release: August 8, 2005 CCal-05-74
Contact: John Dearing (916-978-4622) or Patricia Gradek (661-391-6131)


Nearly 10,000 acres of federal land in the Kern County oil fields were transferred to the Interior Department's Bureau of Land Management today when President Bush signed new energy legislation.

Formerly managed by the Department of Energy (DOE) as a naval petroleum reserve, the transfer paves the way for BLM to make about a fourth of the area available for competitive leasing for the first time.

BLM State Director Mike Pool credited Rep. Bill Thomas for making a long sought after transfer of jurisdiction possible. "Rep. Thomas devoted considerable time and effort in working with DOE and Interior to help us reach agreement and complete the transfer. Not only will this allow new leasing to contribute to the nation's energy independence, but since BLM already manages most of the surrounding oilfields, management will be more efficient," Pool said.

The Reserve, established in 1912 as part of the nation's emergency oil reserves capability, was managed by the United States Navy until 1977 when DOE took control. Of the approximately 10,400 acres of federal lands, 7,900 acres are currently under lease for oil and gas production. BLM expects to complete the necessary planning over the next six months, including public participation and environmental reviews, to offer leases on the remaining 2,500 acres by mid-2006. Pool stated the area's potential is not known, but the oil industry has already indicated interest in exploration.

The legislation also establishes a special account which provides funds for environmental remediation of the NPR-2 lands from pre-transfer activities. The account will also help pay the costs associated with the transfer of the property.

BLM will work closely with key stakeholders and partners of the transfer to effect a smooth transition. The BLM manages over 300 federal onshore oil and gas leases surrounding NPR-2 as well as throughout California. The transferred lands will be managed in a similar manner to adjacent BLM lands.

Bakersfield Field Office, 3801 Pegasus Ave., Bakersfield, CA 93308