In 1929 Burmah Oil Development, Inc. constructed the Ellwood Marine Terminal (currently located within the County of Santa Barbara’s jurisdiction on land owned by the University of California, Santa Barbara [UCSB]) to transport crude oil produced by wells on the Ellwood Mesa.
The offshore oil and gas leases PRC 3120 and 3242, from which Platform Holly extracts oil and gas, were granted in 1964 and 1965, respectively.
The Ellwood Onshore Facility (EOF) and Platform Holly were built between 1965 and 1967 by ARCO and Mobil Oil Company.
The EOF was expanded in 1978 for processing sour gas from the Monterey formation.
ARCO/Mobil constructed two seep tents on the ocean floor to capture gas and oil from natural seeps in South Ellwood Field in 1982.
In the mid-1980s, ARCO proposed erecting three new oil platforms off Coal Oil Point to expand drilling into the Ellwood Field. The California State Lands Commission (CSLC) denied the project.
Santa BarbaraCounty adopted oil and gas consolidation policies in 1987. Under 7 these policies, the EOF and EMT were re-zoned in 1990 as part of the South Coast Consolidation and Oil Transportation processes, respectively. The EOF was re-zoned as Recreation and the EMT was re-zoned as Planned Residential Development. The EOF and EMT were not designated as consolidated sites.
The EOF and EMT are the last two remaining non-conforming oil and gas facilities on the SouthCoast. The EOF is within the boundaries of the City of Goleta. The EMT is within the County on land owned by UCSB and leased to Venoco.
Leases PRC 308 and 309, located east of Venoco’s leases, were issued to ARCO in 1948. Both were quitclaimed back to the State in December 1991.
ARCO may have developed some sub-sea wells on these leases prior to 1978; however, in the 1980s the facilities were abandoned.
ARCO challenged the CSLC denial of the drilling project for leases PRC 308 and 309 in court in 1991. The lawsuit was ultimately settled through an agreement that allowed ARCO to quitclaim the leases (PRC 308 and 309) in exchange for additional drilling rights off the coast of Long Beach.
Mobil took over the Holly-EOF operations from ARCO in 1993.
In 1995, Mobil proposed the Clearview Project to drill into the Ellwood reserves from onshore. The proposed drill site was on UCSB land, where the EMT is currently located; however, UCSB would not allow a lease amendment to permit drilling from the property.
Venoco took over the Platform Holly-EOF operations in 1997 from Mobil.
A series of gas releases from Platform Holly (March 13, 1999, May 26, 1999), the EOF (July 27, 1998) and other potential releases from the barge Jovalan between September 9, 1998, and March 22, 1999, led to a number of odor complaints and the Santa Barbara County Air Pollution Control District (APCD) issued an Abatement Order 99-6A on April 14, 1999. The Abatement Order specified that the Applicant conduct safety audits, establish shutdown and restart protocols, install a flare on Platform Holly, install perimeter odor monitoring, and conduct a number of facility improvements.
The City of Goleta incorporated in 2002 taking over local jurisdiction of the EOF in concert with the California Coastal Commission (CCC).
In 2005, the City received an already existing application to the CSLC, CCC and County of Santa Barbara for the Full Field Development Project. This project proposed to use extended reach drilling from Platform Holly, and process the new production at the EOF. This application was withdrawn in 2010.
In 2008, the City approved a Development Plan Amendment and follow-up Land Use Permit and the CCC approved a Coastal Development Permit for Venoco to amend the EOF’s Development Plan to include APCD Abatement Order conditions.
In, 2010, the APCD rescinded the Abatement Order.
Details of additional South Ellwood Field Projects currently in process may be found on the Oil and Gas Projects page.