The New Law for California's Offshore Oil Development
- Thomas C. Moroney (Honolulu Oil Corp.)
- Document ID
- Society of Petroleum Engineers
- Journal of Petroleum Technology
- Publication Date
- October 1955
- Document Type
- Journal Paper
- 10 - 15
- 1955. Original copyright American Institute of Mining, Metallurgical, and Petroleum Engineers, Inc. Copyright has expired.
- 4.3.4 Scale, 1.6 Drilling Operations, 3 Production and Well Operations, 4.1.5 Processing Equipment, 4.6 Natural Gas
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It is the purpose of this article to demonstrate the significance of the new law for California's offshore oil development; to explain its provisions; to praise and criticize it; to emphasize the responsibility of the petroleum industry in operating under it; and to offer some speculative comments.
Necessity for New State Law
Previous Inadequacy of Law
The people of California for six years waged a battle which was successfully culminated by the enactment of federal legislation in 1953 whereby Congress confirmed California's claim to ownership of the 3-mile submerged land belt lying offshore the coast of the state. During those six years, the people of the state had made two things clear(1) that they were attacking the philosophy of the Supreme Court, and (2) that the unwarranted expropriation by judicial decision of the state's oil resources and other property rights in the submerged land area was a matter for great alarm.
For nearly 2 1/2 years after the restoration of those rights, the State of California was still unable to permit the proper exploration and development of the oil and gas resources underlying that belt because of the inadequacy of the state's then existing law. What a strange predicament after such a long period during which public officials and private persons represented to the Congress and to the people of the nation that, among other things, we needed our tide and submerged lands in order to explore and develop them for oil and natural gas, not only to provide for civilian uses in peacetime, but for the protection of our country in time of war.
To Keep Faith With Congress
It was essential that California laws be amended to provide for the exploration and development of our petroleum resources in the ocean areas, if for no other reasons than to keep faith with our representations to the Congress and the nation, and to enable us to exercise the proprietary rights which we had so effectively and vigorously asserted.
California law, as it existed prior to Sept. 7, 1955, did not authorize the issuance by the State Lands Commission of oil and gas leases embracing the state-owned tide and submerged lands except in the limited instances where such lands were being drained or threatened with drainage by means of wells upon adjacent lands. Because there are only a few isolated instances in which such drainage or the threat thereof exists, most submerged land belt lying offshore the coast of California could not be opened to exploratory drilling until this provision of the law was repealed.
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