On April 17, 2017, Venoco filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy and provided documents to the California State Lands Commission quitclaiming its interests in the South Ellwood Field leases, including Platform Holly (Leases 3120 and 3242) and the Ellwood Beach pier leases (Lease 421) offshore the City of Goleta. Assets that were not quitclaimed and are included as part of the bankruptcy proceedings include the Ellwood Marine Terminal, Ellwood Onshore Facility, two platforms in Carpinteria (Platform Gail and Platform Grace), one retired oil filed in Beverly Hills, and 4 other leases: 3904 (Ellwood Marine Terminal in Santa Barbara County), 5515 (Ellwood Pier in Santa Barbara County), 3150 (Paredon Project in Carpinteria), and 8990 (an inland gas lease in Solano County).
While production at Platform Holly was already shut in due to the Plains Pipeline spill in 2015, quitclaiming of the leases effectively ends commercial oil and gas production in the Goleta area and returns operational control of these assets to the State Lands Commission. California's Coastal Sanctuary Act prohibits the Commission from issuing new offshore oil and gas leases. The Commission will now begin the process of decommissioning Platform Holly. Disposition of the related assets including the Ellwood Onshore Facility and the Lease 421 piers located in the City of Goleta and the Ellwood Marine Terminal and Line 96 located in the County of Santa Barbara has yet to be determined.
The State Lands Commission will ensure that the wells and facilities on Platform Holly are secured and maintained while it develops a plan, in coordination with local and State regulatory agencies, to efficiently and safely address the disposition of the wells, platform, and Lease 421 piers. The process for decommissioning the facilities and plugging and abandoning the approximately 32 wells on State property will be expensive, complex, and lengthy. The Commission is dedicated to a robust, transparent, and collaborative process with the City of Goleta, Santa Barbara County and other local communities and stakeholders in developing a decommissioning plan. Protecting public health and safety and the marine environment is paramount.
The decommissioning process for Platform Holly and the oil piers will occur in three phases:
Phase 1: California State Lands Commission has executed a Temporary Service Agreement to maintain safety while planning for Phase 2. The agreement includes continuous staffing (24-7) to maintain Platform Holly, the Ellwood Onshore Facility, and the two oil piers. The existing agreement runs through July 31, 2017.
Phase 2: California State Lands Commission will plug and abandon the 30 wells on Platform Holly and 2 wells on PRC 421, rendering them largely safe. California State Lands Comission is in the process of selecting a qualified contractor to perform this work. The expected timeline for this work is 20 to 36 months.
Phase 3: California State Lands Commission will perform final decommissioning and removal of offshore infrastructure. Planning for this process will begin after the plugging and abandonment plan from Phase 2 is in place. The decommissioning planning will be subject to the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA), and an Environmental Impact Report (EIR) will assess the potential impacts of decommissioning. The EIR will also consider various alternatives, providing a comparison between the alternatives. The EIR process will include information gathering, including consideration of the ultimate disposition of the platform. All decisions will take place at public meetings, and will include staff reports and analysis. The Notice of Preparation (NOP) for the EIR will give the opportunity for public input when SLC starts the decommissioning planning process.
Please visit the of the California State Lands Commission website landing page to find out about upcoming commission meetings on this topic, and for more information about the Venoco lease quitclaim and bankruptcy.
Information is also available from the County of Santa Barbara on their Energy Division home page.
Town Hall Meetings
On November 7, 2019, the California State Lands Commission held a Town Hall meeting at Goleta City Hall to provide another update to the community on the State Lands Commission’s work to plug and abandon the oil and gas wells on Platform Holly and Piers 421. Commission staff also provided an update on the upcoming CEQA process to remove two shore-zone piers. Meeting materials are provided below:
On June 27, 2019, the California State Lands Commission held a Town Hall meeting at Goleta City Hall to provide another update to the community on the State Lands Commission's efforts to plug and abandon the oil and gas wells at Platform Holly and Piers 421. Commission staff also provided an update on the recent oil release at Piers 421. Meeting materials are provided below:
On November 15, 2018, the California State Lands Commission held a Town Hall meeting at the Goleta City Hall to update the community about the well plug and abandonment work at Piers 421 and Platform Holly. Meeting materials are provided below:
On May 14, 2018, the California State Lands Commission hosted a Town Hall meeting at Goleta City Hall. The purpose of this Town Hall was for Commission staff to update the community on the State Lands Commission’s efforts to plug and abandon the oil and gas wells at Platform Holly and Piers 421 and begin the decommissioning process for the facilities. A flyer and presentation from the meeting is provided below:
On June 15, 2017, the California State Lands Commission hosted a Town Hall meeting at Goleta City Hall. The announcement for the meeting, and slides from the presentation, and video from the meeting are available from the links below:
- Town Hall Meeting Flyer – Venoco Bankruptcy Status Report
- Town Hall Meeting Slides – Venoco Bankruptcy Status Report
- Town Hall Meeting Video – Venoco Bankruptcy Status Report
The California State Lands Commission will continue to hold commission meetings regarding the Venoco lease quitclaim and bankruptcy and ongoing decommissioning work. Announcements with the dates and times for these meetings are provided on the California State Lands Commission website.
The City of Goleta will also be holding additional Town Hall meetings to provide information and obtain feedback from the community. Upcoming meetings will be posted on the City’s website here.
Links for Additional Materials
California State Lands Commission
County of Santa Barbra Energy Division