Drilling and Operating Oil and Gas Wells in California
All California oil and gas wells (development and prospect wells), enhanced-recovery wells, water-disposal wells, service wells (i.e. structure, observation, temperature observation wells), core-holes, and gas-storage wells, onshore and offshore (within three nautical miles of the coastline), located on state and private lands, are permitted, drilled, operated, maintained, plugged and abandoned under requirements and procedures administered by the Department of Conservation's Division of Oil, Gas, and Geothermal Resources (DOGGR).
If you have any questions, please contact the appropriate Division District Office
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Well Permit Information
Drill New Wells
Before an operator can drill a new well in California, the operator must:
- Designate an agent who resides in California and serves as the company contact for all correspondence, including well permits, and the service and acceptance of orders, notices, and processes of the Supervisor or any court of law. The agent must be an individual not a company, and have a physical address within the state. An individual may appoint himself or herself as agent. If an operator desires, more than one agent may be appointed, each for a designated area of the state. A separate form must be filed for each agent. Forms must be submitted to the Division District Office where the well is to be located.
- OG134A - Designation of Agent (for Corporations and Limited Liability Companies only)
- OG134B - Designation of Agent (for Individuals, Partnerships, and Joint Ventures only)
- Furthermore, operators must complete and submit a Contact Questionnaire form with the appropriate Designation of Agent form to the District office where the well is to be located. Besides the name of the agent, the Contact Questionnaire must include the name of a company representative that can answer technical questions related to proposed operations.
- OGD7 – Contact Questionnaire
- Submit a completed permit request form entitled Notice of Intention to Drill New Well (OG105) to the Division District Office where the well is located. The form must be filed, in duplicate, with the appropriate District Office.
- OG 105 - Notice of Intention to Drill New Well – Oil and Gas
Proposals to drill a new well should be consistent with requirements outlined in Division Field Rules. Any deviation from Field Rules should be explained by the permit applicant and a justification provided.
All the information specified on the form should be filled in completely and, where needed, attachments must be provided. Attachments may include a complete drilling program, lease map or plat, lease description and proposed wellbore schematic. The name of an individual to contact regarding technical questions must be provided by the operator as well as an e-mail address (this information is required on all the forms, not just on the Notice to Drill).
Permit approvals are valid for one year from the date the Division receives the Notice. An extension of one year may be granted for permits upon request. Requests for extension of permit approval must be submitted to the Division District Office prior to expiration of the permit.
Should an Operator receive a Well Status Inquiry letter from the Division, the Operator may use it as a request for extension of permit approval prior to the expiration of the permit. Extensions are granted for one additional year from the original permit expiration date.
- Comply with the requirements of the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) prior to submitting the Notice of Intention. Usually this involves obtaining the necessary permits from a local land-use agency. A copy of the local jurisdiction's Notice of Determination or Notice of Exemption must be attached to and submitted with the Notice of Intention to Drill.
- Submit an individual indemnity or cash bond with the Notice of Intention to Drill, unless a blanket bond has been filed previously. Individual bond amounts are based on well depth. Click here for specific bond requirements.
- OG160A – Individual Indemnity Bond
- OG160B – Blanket Indemnity Bond
- OG160C – Individual Cash Bond
- OG160D – Blanket Cash Bond
- Receive Division approval, a Permit to Conduct Well Operations, before drilling can begin (i.e. set of conductor). The Notice and Permit to Drill (P-Report) must be posted at the drill site at all times. The permit lists all mandatory tests and inspections that Division inspectors must witness and approve.
- To request Confidential Status, see below under “Request for Confidential Status” in the Other Well Permitting Information section.
- For all New Wells, approval of proposed operations is subject to the following:
- Protection of all hydrocarbon zones and all surface and subsurface fresh waters through adequate casing and cementing practices, and proper drilling procedures;
- Adequate blowout prevention equipment (see MO7); and
- Proper well spacing (Section 1721-1721.9 CCR)
Rework / Redrills
Operators proposing to deepen or permanently alter the casing in a well must submit a Notice of Intention to Rework / Redrill Well (OG107) and receive a Permit to Rework / Redrill Well (P-report) from the Division District Office prior to commencing operations. All operations other than drilling new wells and abandoning existing wells are under the general classification “Rework”.
Altering Casing includes such actions as: a change in well type, perforate new or existing perforations in casing, run or remove or cement liners, place or drill-out any plug (cement, sand, mechanical), run a wireline tool that has the ability to drill through a cased borehole; essentially, any operation permanently altering the casing of a well.
- Submit a completed permit request form entitled Notice of Intention to Rework / Redrill Well (OG 107). The form must be filed, in duplicate, with the Division District Office where the well is located.
- OG107 -- Notice of Intention to Rework / Redrill Well
- Fill in all the information specified on the form completely. Include any attachments needed, such as a wellbore schematic diagram and a copy of the CEQA document, if CEQA was required by the local jurisdictional agency. In addition to noting any changes in the completion zone, include any anticipated changes to the Field and/or Area for proposed recompletions, redrills, or deepenings.
- The Notice and Permit to Rework / Redrill (P-report) must be posted at the well site at all times. The permit lists all mandatory tests and inspections that Division inspectors must witness and approve.
- Adequate blowout prevention equipment (BOPE) (see MO7). Section 3219 of the PRC specifies that operators must be able to maintain control of a well during any well operation, whether or not a permit is required. All operations in urban areas require the use of BOPE.
Plugging and Abandonment
Prior to plugging and abandoning any oil and gas well, or any other well under the Division’s jurisdiction, operators must:
- Submit a Notice to Intention to Abandon / Re-Abandon Well (OG 108).
- OG108 – Notice of Intention to Abandon / Re-Abandon Well - Oil and Gas
Fill in all the information specified on the form completely. Include any attachments needed, such as a wellbore schematic diagram. The diagram must include casing intervals and sizes, perforation locations, cement plug depths inside casing, and the location of the cement outside casing.
Note: Form OG108, in addition to being used by an operator proposing the plug and abandon a well, must be used when proposing to reenter a well for the purpose of replacing cement plugs and re-abandoning the well. The Supplementary Notice (Form OG123) is no longer used for Re-Abandonment proposals.
Once a conductor has been set, if it is not to be used (as in the case when a permit is cancelled), it must be properly secured or covered at the surface to prevent someone or something from falling into an open conductor. The Division must be contacted to provide plugging requirements to minimize the potential for subsurface contamination and hazardous surface conditions.
Special Plugging Requirements: Radioactive Sources
Plugging Radioactive Sources (CCR section 1722(j)): The loss of radioactive materials in a well, with the exception of radioactive tracers used in injection surveys, shall be promptly reported to the Department of Health Services and to the appropriate Division District Office.
For the California Department of Health Services, call (916) 327-5106 or the OES 24-hour Emergency Assistance phone at 1-800-852-7550.
The Division’s District Office will provide special instructions for the plugging and abandonment of the well, which are included in CCR section 1723(g).
Injection Well Permitting and Project Approval
Approval to inject into a well is granted through the Division’s Underground Injection Control (UIC) program for Class II wells. Division authority for the UIC program is granted through a delegation of primacy from the U.S. EPA.
Prior to injection into a well regulated by the Division, an operator must submit a complete project application, which includes data listed in CCR section 1724.7 for onshore projects, and section 1748.2 for offshore projects.
Project plans should be signed by the owner, agent, or officer of the company.
Individual well Notices of Intent for wells included in the Injection Project proposal must also be submitted and permits received before injection can begin.
Please go to the Injection Program (UIC – Underground Injection Control) section of the Website for full details.
- Enhanced Recovery Project Approval
- Water-Disposal Project Approval
- Commercial Water-Disposal Approval
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Other Well Permitting Information
Changes to Existing Permits, Drill, Rework, and Abandonment Programs
A Supplementary Notice (OG123) must be submitted and approval received prior to changing any previously approved well operations.
- OG123 – Supplementary Notice
Request for Confidential Status
Operators may request Confidential Status when submitting the Notice of Intention to Drill or at the time the drilling history is submitted to the Division after completion of drilling activities. The request must be in writing and include a justification for confidential status. All requests must be submitted to the Division District Office where the well in located. See Sample Letter Request for Confidential Status. Refer to Section 3234 of the PRC and Section 1997.1 of the CCR for requirements of Confidential Well records.
Permits are good for one year from the date of the Division's receipt of the Notice of Intention. Additionally, a one-year extension may be granted if the request is submitted to the Division prior to the expiration of the first one-year period. Notices and Permits are cancelled after two years.
Well and Property Sale and Transfer
Operators who sell, transfer, or otherwise exchange the right to operate a well, and the land (owned or leased) where the well is located, must notify the Division no later than the date the sale, transfer, conveyance, exchange, or other disposition, becomes final.
Notification is also required from persons acquiring ownership or operation of any well – whether by purchase, transfer, or another method – no later than the date the sale, transfer, conveyance, exchange, or other disposition, becomes final.
- To notify DOGGR of a sale, complete a Report of Property Transfer form (OG30A) and submit it to the appropriate District Office.
- OG30A – Report of Property Transfer
To help operators obtain the well bonds required by Division 3 of the California Public Resources Code (PRC), DOGGR has prepared the following resource for operators to use:
- Bond Log (PDF, 14 KB): lists recent bonds that have been submitted to the Division, including the surety company name, bond type, and bond amount. This is a good source for determining which surety companies are currently writing oilfield bonds.
Specific bond questions may be directed to the appropriate Division District Office or the Headquarters office in Sacramento. (Please see the Division Contacts list on our main web page.)
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Pursuant to California Code of Regulations (CCR) Title 14, Division 2, Chapter 4, Section 1722 (k), the State Oil and Gas Supervisor may establish Field Rules for any oil and gas pool or zone in a field when sufficient geologic and engineering data is available from previous drilling operations. Field Rules supplement more broadly applicable statutory and regulatory requirements. Each Field Rule is specific to a field, and in many cases, specific to Areas and Zones or Pools within a field.
The Division has established Field Rules for those fields where geologic and engineering information is available to accurately describe subsurface conditions. These Field Rules identify downhole conditions and well construction information that oil and gas operators should consider when drilling and completing onshore oil and gas wells.
Existing Field Rules are continually reviewed and updated as ongoing field operations generate new technical information, including geologic data.
Division publication California Oil and Gas Field Rules (PRC05) contains these field rules and can be viewed and downloaded from this site (PDF, 260 pages, 12 MB).
- To view and download an Excel file of the Field Rules Index, click here.
- To inquire about Field Rules, contact the Division District Office where the field is located. For a list of district offices, click here.
The Division has developed guidelines for the use of coiled tubing (CT) during well plugging operations. These guidelines are applicable as Field Rules in the districts and are subject to change:
The Division has developed guidelines for well plugging operations using sodium bentonite material:
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