Can I drill an oil well in my backyard?

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    Whoa there, James Dean. You’re not in Texas, and it’s not that simple. Folks like Ed Doheny sucked out the easy stuff a long time ago.  Let’s say you own the mineral rights beneath your property (those in many of the oil-rich areas were sold off generations ago) and you live in a neighborhood where such things are tolerated — Vernon, perhaps.  Now, if you could persuade the Division of Oil, Gas and Geothermal Resources, the AQMD, SPCC, OSPR, the Sanitation District and other state, county, and city officials to issue permits for a well, you’d still have to find yourself a wildcatter.  The geologists, engineers, drillers, pumpers, accountants, and tank builders required will set you back about a million bucks.  Assuming a hundred barrels a day at current oil prices, it would take about four months to recoup that money.  Then you’d be rich!
     
    Illustration by Zohar Lazar

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