Petroleum (oil and gas) has been produced in Ventura County for over a century. Oil and gas production commenced in Ventura County in the late 1860s, following the discovery of the Ojai oil field. Subsequently, numerous other oil fields were discovered and the County of Ventura became one of the major producing areas in the State of California. Over 12,000 wells have been drilled in the Ventura Basin (including Ventura County and a portion of Los Angeles County). There are currently about 3,800 active wells in Ventura County.
This website page is intended to provide an overview of the existing oil and gas facilities in the unincorporated area of Ventura County, and the local regulations that apply to the permitting of proposed oil and gas projects.
Oil and Gas Permit Applications
General Plan Policies
Zoning Ordinance Policies
- Non-Coastal Zoning Ordinance (Refer to Section 8107-5.6)
- Coastal Zoning Ordinance (Refer to Section 8175-5.7.8)
Oil and Gas Facilities in Ventura County
Current On-Shore Operations:
There are currently 43 companies that operate oil and gas facilities in the 34 active oil and gas fields located in Ventura County. These oil and gas facilities operate under the authority of 145 conditional use permits (CUPs) granted by the County of Ventura from the late 1940s to as recently as 2016.
There are two major consolidated oil and gas processing facilities located onshore in the coastal zone that receive oil and gas from offshore oil leases.
All oil and gas facilities include local pipelines that convey produced fluids from wells to local storage and processing facilities located on lease areas within the oil and gas fields and to connections with the major transmission pipelines that transport oil and gas to regional refineries located in the Los Angeles area. The major pipelines that convey crude oil and natural gas are generally located along highways and railroad lines and are owned by large companies such as Crimson LP and Southern California Gas Company.
Regulatory Authority for Oil and Gas Facilities in the State of California
Land that is under federal ownership is regulated by the United States Department of the Interior, Bureau of Land Management (BLM). The BLM manages the Federal government’s onshore mineral estate – about 700 million acres held by the BLM, U.S. Forest Service and other Federal agencies and other surface owners -- for the benefit of the American public. It also manages some aspects of the oil and gas development for Indian tribes. BLM California manages nearly 600 producing oil and gas leases. Production from Federal leases averages about 8%-10% of California’s total oil and natural gas production.
California Geologic Energy Management Division (CalGEM):
State tide and submerged lands include the area from mean high tide seaward to the three-mile boundary with the Federal Outer Continental Shelf (OCS). Development of oil and gas resources on existing leases in this area is subject to regulation by the California State Lands Commission (SLC). The SLC is responsible for minerals leasing activities, issuance of rights-of-way, and satisfaction of CEQA requirements for projects involving new facilities on State Tide and Submerged lands. Development of onshore facilities that support offshore projects is subject to local agency (County) land use regulation.
The issuance of new oil and gas leases on State Tide and Submerged lands is currently restricted by the 1994 California Coastal Sanctuary Act, which prohibits new leasing for oil and gas extraction in State waters except: (1) in the event of a severe national energy supply interruption; or (2) when the State determines that state-owned oil or gas deposits are being drained by producing wells located upon adjacent Federal lands and the lease is in the best interests of the State. Oil and gas leases in effect as of January 1, 1995 are unaffected by this Act until such leases revert back to the State, at which time they become part of the California Coastal Sanctuary.
The California Coastal Commission (CCC) is another agency involved in the review of development on State Tide and Submerged lands. This review is accomplished in accordance with the requirements of the California Coastal Act, which establishes stringent standards for environmental protection.
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 California Geologic Energy Management Division (CalGEM)).
While State and Federal governments have direct management control over their respective offshore jurisdictions, local governments have land use authority over the permitting of onshore facilities such as oil and gas processing plants, pipelines, supply bases, and marine terminals. Local resource management or planning agencies typically act as the CEQA lead agency for projects involving onshore facilities, even when these projects also involve components on State Tide and Submerged lands. In Ventura County, this function is carried out by the Planning Division of the Resource Management Agency.
Oil and Gas Links
- Department of Energy
- Department of Transportation
- Federal Energy Regulatory Commission
- Minerals Management Service
State of California
- California Coastal Commission
- California Geologic Energy Management Division (CalGEM)
- California Public Utilities Commission
- California State Lands Commission