SBCAN members are quoted in this article by Joe Payne that ran in the Santa Maria Sun on May 17, 2017:
Platform Holly has stood alone in the South Ellwood oil field for decades as the Santa Barbara Channel’s last oil rig in California’s state waters. But it may not stay standing for much longer.
The platform’s owner, Venoco, announced on April 17 that it filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy—which allows the company to reorganize assets—and quitclaimed the South Ellwood oil field, returning the lease to the state. With Venoco abandoning the field and platform Holly, the State Lands Commission will begin decommissioning the platform—a development that illustrates the decades-long debate in Santa Barbara County over oil production, especially offshore drilling.
ON THE HORIZON
|Venoco announced its quitclaim of the South Ellwood oil field on April 17, which includes turning over Platform Holly for decommissioning by the State Lands Commission. Holly is the last Santa Barbara Channel oil platform in California’s state waters. (Photo source: www.flickr.com/photos/n28307/)
|PHOTO COURTESY OF GLENN BELTZ
Venoco made clear its reason for shutting down Platform Holly: Since Plains All American Pipeline stopped all transport of Venoco’s crude from its Ellwood Onshore Facility after the Refugio oil spill in 2015, the platform was dead in the water. Plains’ Line 901 leaked more than 140,000 gallons of oil into the ocean on May 19, 2015, marring coastline for miles in either direction with black, odorous crude, affecting businesses as small as family-owned fishing boats and as large as Venoco.
After Venoco failed to petition the State Lands Commission to adjust and expand the lease boundaries of the South Ellwood field earlier this year, the company had no hope for Holly. The move to walk away was due to a number of “unfortunate circumstances impacting the company’s financial strength,” Venoco’s COO Mike Wracher said in the company’s April 17 statement. The statement named Plains’ nonoperational Line 901 as a deciding factor.
“We have pursued a number of market-based and regulatory solutions to address these challenges during the last year,” Wracher said in the statement. “Despite these considerable efforts, our financial position now compels us to take this action.”