Current Oil and Gas Operations Within and Near Goleta

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Platform Holly

Platform Holly is self-contained, triple-decked, oil drilling and production platform located offshore the Goleta coast and is under the jurisdiction of the California State Lands Commission (CSLC).  The platform was constructed in 1966 and has remained in continuous operation since that time.  The platform sits in 211 feet of water and has a boat landing and heliport.   There is no formal documentation of the original criteria used in the structural design of Platform Holly; however, engineering principles and applicable codes current at the time were used.  Additionally, industry guidelines for maintenance and inspection have been rigorously followed over the intervening years.  For example, a 500-year seismic analysis was conducted for Platform Holly by Mobil in 1996.  The study results indicated that the platform, with minor repairs, should withstand a 500-year seismic event.  The necessary repairs were completed in 2004 and approved by the CSLC.

Platform Holly produces oil/water emulsion and natural gas that are transported to the Ellwood Onshore Facility (EOF) within City limits via two 6-inch sub-sea pipelines.  Platform Holly is currently permitted at a production rate of 20,000 BPD of oil emulsion and 20,000 million cubic feet per day (MCFD) of gas.  Presently, the platform has 30 well slots, of which, 24 currently produce oil/water emulsion, two are for gas injection and production; three are idle or used for water injection; and one is temporarily abandoned. The number of producing and idle wells varies over time based on well work-over programs and reservoir characteristics.

Platform Holly operations include production, separation, and shipping of oil, water and gas; well maintenance and work-over operations; gas dehydration; vapor recovery; and gas compression for shipping and gas lift (and aid to oil production).  Platform Holly is manned 24 hours per day, seven days per week, with a minimum of two platform operators on duty at all times.

Seep Tents

Two seep tents sit on the ocean floor approximately one mile southeast of Platform Holly. These tents are designed to collect seep gas and associated oil.  The two seep gas collection tents are installed side by side in approximately 220 feet of water and are connected by a 6-inch gas hose and 6-inch oil line originally installed for the collection of trace amounts of oil.  The tents were installed on the sea floor directly over areas of naturally occurring gas seeps.  The gas and a trace amount of oil bubble up from the ocean floor and are captured in the tents.  The tents were originally designed to separate the trace amounts of oil and the gas, directing the gas into a 6-inch gas hose, which leaves the southern seep tent and connects to the 8-inch seep gas gathering line.  Captured oil was to be removed periodically by using the 6-inch oil line and directing the oil flow into a portable tank brought to the site for that purpose.  Previous field operators attempted this procedure with no success in recovering oil.  As a result, no recent attempts have been made to recover oil from the tents.  The seep gas is routed to the EOF for treatment.

Ellwood Onshore Facility (EOF)

The EOF is located along the coast in western Goleta, and is an oil and gas treating facility with the capability to treat 20,000 Barrels Per Day (BPD) of wet oil and 20,000 MMSCFD of gas.  Currently, Santa Barbara County APCD limits throughput at the EOF to 13,000 dry BPD of oil, based on permit emissions limits of dry crude oil tanks. 

As a part of the existing production activities, the oil treating facilities at the EOF perform the following functions: removed produced water from the crude oil/water emulsion; reduce the hydrogen sulfide content in the treated crude oil to 70 parts per million (ppm) or less (on a weight basis); inject the produced water into an onsite disposal well; and, deliver the dry crude oil to the Ellwood Marine Terminal (EMT) through an underground common carrier pipeline (Line 96).

Line 96

Line 96 is an underground pipeline that transports oil from the EOF to the EMT.

Ellwood Marine Terminal (EMT)

The Ellwood Marine Terminal is located on land under the jurisdiction of the County of Santa Barbara and CSLC and owned by UCSB (the current lease with UCSB ends in 2016).  The EMT was constructed in 1929 by Burmah Oil Development, Inc. and has been operated as a barge and tanker transfer facility for crude oil and petroleum products since that time.  Originally, production from the onshore and nearshore wells located in Bankline Oil Company's Ellwood Field was transported to the EMT.  Since the 1960s, however, only production from the South Ellwood Field and Platform Holly has been transported to the EMT.

The offshore portion of the EMT is leased to Venoco pursuant to the state lease PRC 3904.1 for development of the South Ellwood Field.  The lease area covers a block of land extending offshore some 2,600 feet near the City, and consists of 2.9 acres of state sovereign land that is used as an offshore transfer facility for crude oil.  The offshore portion of the EMT consists of an irregular six-point mooring system in approximately 60 feet of water, with associated pipeline and sub-sea hoses. 

Barges are loaded at the EMT with crude oil from Platform Holly that has been delivered via Line 96 to storage tanks at the EMT.  The barges then deliver the oil to market facilities in Long Beach Harbor and the San Francisco Bay area.  The CLSC lease is set to expire in 2013 and the UCSB lease is set to expire in 2016.  A condition of approval of the recently approved EMT Lease Renewal Project requires Venoco to replace EMT operations with another mode of transportation prior to lease expiration.

PRC Lease 421

Two existing piers, 421-1 and 421-2, are located on the beach just beneath the Sandpiper Golf Course.  The two piers are the last remaining production structures associated with the oil development from the Ellwood Field that occurred along this section of the coast from the 1930s to the 1950s.  The existing piers were constructed in 1928 and production peaked in 1930 at nearly 49,000 BPD of oil.  Lease 421 production has historically been processed at the piers, and a 6-inch pipeline connects PRC 421 to Line 96 at a tie-in located just outside the EOF.  State lease 421 was granted in 1949.  Well 421-1 was converted to a water injection well in the early 1970s and well 421-2 has been shut-in since 1994.

In 2001, it was determined that the Vaqueros Reservoir, which is the source of oil for production from PRC 421, had become re-pressurized since being shut-in.  Repressurization of the reservoir was identified in late 2000, when Venoco, Inc. installed a temporary pipeline at Well 421-2 in response to the detection of minor leaks in both wellheads.  When Well 421-2 was opened, a total of 16,500 bbl of nearly pure oil flowed from it over the next 10 months.  This oil was transported to the EOF for transport to the EMT via Line 96.

Well 421-2 was subsequently shut-in again, and Venoco applied to the CSLC, the City and County to make repairs and bring both wells to production.