Brown Appoints Oil Executive to Head Oil Oversight Office

Friday, October 16, 2015
Bill Bartling

On the same day last week that the state agency in charge of regulating the oil and gas industry in California released a critical internal review (pdf) detailing how bad a job it was doing, Governor Brown appointed an oil executive to head one of its key offices.

Bill Bartling, 61, is the new Division of Oil, Gas and Geothermal Resources’ (DOGGR) area district deputy (pdf) for Bakersfield. He supervises “oil and gas production, fresh water protection, enhanced recovery, underground injection control, production tank and pipeline integrity and the environmental protection programs.” 

Upon review, the DOGGR report found, oil companies violated their drilling permits 822 times in 2014 and in 17 cases started their operations before receiving one. Most of the transgressions were dealt with by sending the oil company a notice of violation. Critics of the chronically underfunded agency, which is in the California Department of Conservation, have complained for years that the regulators are too close to the industry.

State officials admitted earlier this year that oil companies had been allowed to inject toxic fluids in or near Central Valley aquifers protected by the federal government. Around 2,500 wells were identified but only 23 were shut down. The state said it did not find any evidence that the aquifers had been tainted.

Bartling will oversee DOGGR’s District 4, which includes all of Kern County, is home to about 85% of California’s petroleum production. The job has been vacant since last year.

According to Bartling’s LinkedIn profile, he has mostly worked in the oil and gas industry since graduating with a Master’s degree in geology from San Diego State University in 1981. He went to work for Chevron as an Earth scientist and stayed for 14 years. Bartling left Chevron in 1995 for CogniSeis Development, Inc. where he was senior vice president.

Bartling, a Republican, joined Occidental Oil and Gas in 1998, where he was manager of technical computing. From 2000 to 2005, Bartling was senior director of market strategy at Silicon Graphics Inc. He struck out on his own in 2006, founding Ambrose Oil and Gas and serving as chief technology officer. His resume lists him as serving on the technical board until 2013, but he was president and chief executive officer at SR2020, Inc. from 2008 to November 2014. The company develops borehole seismic imaging technologies and methods for exploration and production in the oil and gas industry.

Bartling was general manager of borehole imaging services at OptaSense Processing Services from 2013 to September 2015 and has been president of Aspectus Energy Consulting since then.

Hollin Kretzmann, at the Center for Biological Diversity, told Dan Bacher that the appointment is par for the course for the Brown administration. He said, “Hiring an oil executive to run one of the state’s most captured agencies is completely inappropriate and only adds insult to injury.”

Bartling’s appointment does not require Senate confirmation. Compensation is $180,000.   

–Ken Broder


To Learn More:

Governor Appoints Local Oil Executive to Lead Bakersfield Oil Agency Office (by John Cox, Bakersfield Californian)

Governor Appoints Big Oil Executive as Industry Regulator (by Dan Bacher, Daily Kos)

California Oil Regulators Acknowledge Oversight Failings (by Ellen Knickmeyer, Associated Press)

Oil Regulator's Report Oozes with Bad News for L.A. and the State (by Ken Broder, AllGov California)

Governor Brown Announces Appointments (Office of the California Governor)

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