California Oil and Gas Permits

​​​​​​​​​​​​​​Approvals for drilling operations are a two-step process. Oil and gas companies must first secure approval from local authorities before drilling can take place. Then, a company must apply to CalGEM for permits before constructing or operating a new well or modifying an existing one. 

CalGEM thoroughly reviews each permit application for adherence to health and safety rules, environmental rules (California Environmental Quality Act), and other state laws and guidelines. The Division relies on science and sound-engineering practices in its permitting and oversight responsibilities. 

Permit Review Process

All permit requests undergo the following review process: 

  • Initial completeness review by CalGEM District staff
  • California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) assessment
  • In-depth technical review by CalGEM District staff

​Permit Type
​Definition
​Well abandonment
​Permanently cease production.
​Re-abandonment
​Re-plug and abandon a well.
​Rework
​Repair a well.
​Well deepening
Extend the depth of an existing well.
​New drill
​Drill a new well; to bore a hole in the earth.
​Sidetrack
​​Cement a portion of the original well path and re-drill.


Permits for well stimulation treatments (usually hydraulic fracturing or "fracking") must undergo additional review. CalGEM assesses the project's regulatory compliance, verifies and evaluates the proposed treatment's integrity, ensures geologic and hydrologic isolation, and reviews of the treatment design. The State Water Board also reviews each permit application to ensure ground water protection. CalGEM district staff monitor pressure tests, witness the operations and chemical spot-checks during stimulation. Note: CalGEM is developing regulations to phase out all well stimulation, including fracking, in the Stete of California.

The number of permits issued does not directly correlate to the amount of oil extracted, because not all permits are for drilling new wells. Since, 2019, more permits have been issued to plug and permanently seal existing wells than to drill new ones. 

CalGEM Permit Data

Permit Data by Quarter 

​Permit Data by Year


Completed Wells (Spuds)- All Well Types


CalGEM Well Stimulation Treatment Permit Data​

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