Oil giants sell thousands of California wells, raising worries about future liability
By John Aguirre
28 September 2019
Last month, the California Department of Conservation sent letters to more than 800 wells owned by Royal Dutch Shell, Chevron and ExxonMobil that were drilling in the state last summer.
The orders are part of an effort by the Department of Conservation (DOC) to regulate the drilling activity as part of its efforts to address the problem of fracking and deep-water oil drilling pollution.
More than two-thirds of the wells surveyed by DOC were located in Kern County and San Bernardino County, with the vast majority of the wells located in the southern part of the state.
The orders, which were issued earlier this month, aim to require operators to clean up the water and sediment in the ground from these wells within 60 days, and to have the wells re-started within a year after the operator has implemented these rules.
The orders are aimed at addressing the growing ecological and environmental concerns that have been raised about the drilling activity underway in California.
In addition to issuing the drilling orders, DOC also issued a public notice, asking for public comments on the issue. The notice notes that “it is critical that the public has an opportunity to be heard during these rulemaking processes.”
The notice states that the order comes in response to concerns that fracking and deep-water drilling pollution has contaminated groundwater, surface water, and air, resulting in health and environmental damage.
The public notice is aimed at ensuring that the water quality issue is addressed, while at the same time trying to reassure the public and the energy companies about the future consequences of their actions.
The public notice states that the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) also regulates the fracking and oil drilling activity in California, and that DNR is the entity that makes final findings and determinations on these issues. This means that the orders that DOC issued are based on findings made by DNR, and not DOC.
A number of public health organizations and environmental groups, such as the San Francisco