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Advances in drilling technology now enable the exploration for and development of offshore oil and gas resources without the installation of facilities and wells in offshore marine environments. This paper will discuss the resource potential for California tide and submerged lands (tidelands) and recent trends to develop this potential while providing increased environmental protection using “extended reach drilling” from existing onshore (upland) sites. Investigation of the economic feasibility as well as the regulatory and permitting process in developing California’s offshore resources through this drilling method will be presented. A prototype upland extended reach drilling development will be discussed for the South Ellwood Offshore Field, Santa Barbara County. This concept, entitled “Clearview,” has been endorsed by the staff of the State Lands Commission, local business groups and is actively promoted by the lessee, Mobil Oil Corporation. The aspects of the Clearview Project which make expanded development of the South Ellwood Offshore Field possible will be reviewed.

This paper will examine past trends that shaped California offshore resource development policy and recent circumstances leading to the support of upland extended reach drilling. Royalty revenue sharing with impacted coastal communities may increase the likelihood of development using extended reach drilling and is presently under consideration by the staff of the State Lands Commission (SLC), the agency responsible for the development of tideland oil and gas resources in California.

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