Petition called to inspect California offshore pipelines

August 10, 2015

The Center for Biological Diversity formally and legally petitioned the US federal government to inspect all of California’s offshore pipelines for corrosion and other damages.

Image from APPEA.

California suffered a 2400/bbl oil spill just north of Refugio State beach in Santa Barbara County on 19 May 2015. Plains All American Pipeline owns the onshore pipeline that leaked, which typically move crude oil from three of ExxonMobil’s offshore platforms.

Millions of gallons of oil are pumped through these pipelines every day, posing a toxic threat to the people, wildlife and California’s unique coastal environment, as was graphically illustrated by the recent rupture of a badly corroded pipeline that caused a massive oil spill near Santa Barbara, the Center said.

The legal petition, which covers 213mi of pipelines in federal waters in addition to pipelines in state waters closer to shore, requests that the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE) and the Pipeline and Hazardous Material Safety Administration inspect offshore oil and gas pipelines on the Pacific Outer Continental Shelf and in California state waters.

According to the Center, preliminary findings indicate that the spill was caused by extensive corrosion of the pipeline, and that the pipeline had corroded to a much greater extent than federally required reports from Plains All American had indicated.

The offshore pipelines are more than 40 years old, and the onshore Plains All American pipeline that leaked more than 100,000 gallons of heavy crude oil onto the California coast are about 28 years old. The spill killed hundreds of animals, including dolphins and sea lions, and polluted beaches for nearly 100mi.

“Rusty pipelines put California’s coast at risk of another destructive oil spill,” said Kristen Monsell, a Center attorney. “Dangerous oil drilling doesn’t belong in oceans, and aging pipelines and oil rigs increase the risk. Federal inspectors should examine every inch of these offshore pipelines to see if they’re as corroded and dangerous as the section that failed near Santa Barbara.”

Before the spill occurred, Senator Mike McGuire set to create legislation to ban oil and gas drilling off the coast of California with the SB 788 Coastal Protection Act.

As of 30 June, SB 788 was headed for final vote on the Assembly floor. It received bi-partisan support, passing with a 7-2 vote in the Assembly Natural Resources Committee on 29 June.

“The recent Santa Barbara oil spill proves, despite new technology, that the risks to our environment and economy are simply too great. Now is the time to take action and ban new drilling off the California coast,” Senator McGuire said.

Read more:

Senate Bill 788: No offshore California drilling



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