Oil giants sell thousands of California wells, raising worries about future liability amid California’s energy boom
By Laura Smith,
Updated Jan. 22, 2018, 11:50 p.m.
A solar panel. (Photo: Scott Olson/Getty Images)
(Updated Jan. 22, 2018, 11:50 p.m.)
Oil giants such as Exxon Mobil Corp., Chevron Corp. and the Royal Dutch Shell Petroleum Co. are selling thousands of thousands of oil wells in California in the first year of the state’s energy boom, raising concerns about a future liability and possibly triggering a new regulatory review.
And the companies are spending tens of millions of dollars to fight the disclosure of data showing who is buying up millions of these leases, which is required by state rules for reporting their activities to the state Natural Resources Agency.
The move, by California energy companies and the state’s biggest oil and gas firm, has drawn complaints from regulators and the public. They say companies are profiting from the energy boom while doing little to mitigate the environmental damage caused by the fracking they’re involved in.
The disclosure rules are meant to ensure that public health and the environment are not harmed when energy companies extract, transport and sell oil and gas, and the companies have a legal and moral obligation to ensure that the data is accurate.
California’s rules are among the heaviest-handed in the country and are intended for the oil and gas industry.
Oil companies were not immediately available for comment. The state Natural Resources Agency said it is in the “development phase” of its plan to develop new rules requiring new disclosure.
Shell, Chevron and Exxon Mobil declined to comment on the new California rules, which are not final.
The rules were first proposed by the oil and natural gas division of the state in October 2017 to replace the rules in place before the state’s energy boom began.