State Lands Commission Answers Questions about Oil Production within the Bolsa Chica Ecological Reserve

1. The Bolsa Chica lease is held by California Resources Corporation (CRC), and there appear to be 102 active wells at the wetlands. Are those two pieces of info accurate?
There are two categories of wells within Bolsa Chica, those that are private wells (pre-existing private leases, not leased by State Lands Commission [SLC]), and wells located within one SLC lease. The on-site oil operator at Bolsa Chica for both the private wells and state leased lands is CRC. The State of California, acting by and through the Commission, took title to the Bolsa Chica Lowlands subject to existing legal agreements that allow for oil extraction operations to continue indefinitely, as long as production is economical. The Fractracker website includes wells that are on private leases within Bolsa Chica. Therefore, we cannot confirm the 102 number, but suggest that you contact CalGEM for that information.

2. When does the lease end?
The Commission manages one oil and gas lease in the Bolsa Chica wetlands that it acquired as a successor in interest as part of the State’s acquisition of the Bolsa Chica wetlands in 1997. It is lease number 4736 and it is held by CRC. The lease, like nearly all offshore oil and gas leases in the state, is held by production. This means that the lease term persists as long as the lessee either produces, or is capable of producing, oil from the lease.

3. Can the Commission simply decide not to renew the lease because environmental concerns, including risks to the environment and the state’s move away from fossil fuels?
No. As described above, the State of California took title to the Bolsa Chica Lowlands subject to existing legal agreements that allow for oil extraction operations to continue. The agreements do provide for the oil operator, which is now CRC, to plug and abandon any well that is no longer producing in quantities sufficient to pay its costs of operation, as well as to clean up and restore the land surface.

4. How much does CRC pay annually for the lease?
The royalty the Commission receives from lease number 4736 is roughly $30,000 a year.

5. Do you know how much oil/gas they produced last year from Bolsa Chica? If not, how about for 2019?
We don’t know the total amount of oil that is produced from the entire Bolsa Chica wetlands because some of the wells are developed under private agreements not under the Commission’s jurisdiction.

6. Are you aware of any plans to end oil and gas operations at Bolsa Chica?
We are not aware of any plans CRC has to end oil and gas operations at Bolsa Chica. The Commission’s EIR for the Bolsa Chica Restoration Project contemplated that the operations would eventually cease, allowing for the potential restoration of the Project’s 252-acre Future Full Tidal area.