Oil and Gas Leases

California's most valuable oil and gas resources are primarily located in and adjacent to some of the state’s most spectacular beaches and coastline. The controversy over the development of oil and gas resources has been going on since 1921 when the first development was permitted. Since 1969, the concern about potential environmental damage resulting from a spill and the desire to avoid marring the coast with unsightly development has outweighed the desire to generate revenue from new offshore development. While the Commission put a moratorium on new oil and gas leases after the 1969 spill in Santa Barbara, the leases issued before 1969 continue to generate significant revenue to the state, as they have for almost 80 years. To ensure that the public fully benefits from existing production, the Commission operates a rigorous financial auditing program to ensure that California receives all the money it is owed.

  • Offshore Oil and Gas Located in California Waters

    There are 26 offshore oil and gas agreements in California waters, which are what remain of the more than 60 originally issued. These leases were issued prior to the catastrophic 1969 oil spill from Platform A in federal waters off Santa Barbara County, and some predate the formation of the Commission. Between 2010 and 2014, the bulk of the approximately $300 million generated annually for the state's General Fund from oil and gas agreements was from these offshore leases.

    In 1921, the Legislature created the first tidelands oil and gas leasing program. Between 1921 and 1929, approximately 100 permits and leases were issued and over 850 wells were drilled in Santa Barbara and Ventura Counties. In 1929, the Legislature prohibited any new leases or permits. In 1933, however, the prohibition was partially lifted in response to an alleged theft of tidelands oil in Huntington Beach. It wasn't until 1938, and again in 1955, that the Legislature would allow new offshore oil and gas leasing. Except for limited circumstances, the Legislature has consistently placed limits on the areas that the Commission may offer for lease and in 1994, placed the entirety of California's coast off-limits to new oil and gas leases.

  • Offshore Oil and Gas Platforms and Islands

    There are four offshore oil platforms in state waters off the coast of California. They are platforms Holly in Santa Barbara County, Eva and Emmy in Huntington Beach, and Esther off Seal Beach. There are also four large artificial islands in the Long Beach Harbor, known as the Long Beach Unit, and one small artificial island, Rincon Island, located off Rincon Beach in Ventura County. There are 23 platforms in federal waters located offshore California.

  • Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta Oil and Gas

    There are 31 onshore oil and gas agreements in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta areas. The Commission's interest in these areas is in the riverbeds. The only agreement that authorizes drilling on land under the Commission's jurisdiction was issued in 1940. The other 30 agreements provide compensation to the state for wells that either pass through or are draining gas from state lands.

  • School Lands Oil and Gas

    The Commission manages oil and gas leases that are located on School Lands. Over the past four years, those agreements have generated approximately $8 million in revenue that benefits the State Teachers' Retirement System.

  • Legislatively Granted Lands Offshore Oil and Gas

    Some sovereign lands that were legislatively granted to local municipalities in the early 1900s included oil and gas. These grants are generally located in southern California and include cities such as Los Angeles, Newport Beach and Long Beach. Revenue derived from oil and gas leases on granted public trust lands are public trust assets of the state and may not be spent on general municipal purposes. Details about the oil and gas revenue from the legislative grants to Los Angeles and Newport Beach are available on the Granted Public Trust Lands page. Revenue from the Long Beach oil and gas program is allocated under a net profits agreement where the state receives a percentage of the profits, the operator receives a percentage of the profits, and the City receives a percentage of the profits. Between 2010 and 2014, Long Beach's oil and gas program generated approximately $1.4 billion.

  • Offshore Oil and Gas Located in Federal Waters

    The United States controls the issuance of new oil and gas leases in federal waters. While the Commission does not have control over that land, it has repeatedly objected to allowing new leases in the federal waters outside of the state boundary. The Commission's voice has been heard as it has been over twenty years since the federal government issued new leases. For more information on the federal leasing program, please visit the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management.

  • Federal Platforms

    In the Pacific OCS Region, 23 oil and gas production facilities have been installed in federal waters. All of these facilities are off the coast of California. Twenty-two of these facilities produce oil and gas, while the other is a processing facility. Six companies are operating offshore oil and gas facilities in the Pacific Region. Information about these facilities, organized by operator and platform, is below.

    • Beta Operating Company, LLC
      Patforms Ellen, Elly, and Eureka
    • Venoco, LLC (now under Chevron's abandonment)
      Platforms Gail, and Grace
    • ExxonMobil Corporation
      Platforms Harmony, Heritage, and Hondo
    • Pacific Operators Offshore LLC
      Platforms Hogan and Houchin
    • Freeport McMoRan Oil & Gas LLC
      Platforms Harvest, Hermosa, Hidalgo, and Irene
    • DCOR, LLC
      Platforms A, B, C, Edith, Gilda, Gina, Habitat, Henry, and Hillhouse
  • Drilling Regulations

    In California, the Division of Oil, Gas and Geothermal Resources is in charge of regulating all oil and gas operations. For federal waters, that duty is performed by the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement.