Exxon to shut 3 oil plat­forms af­ter pipe break

Last month’s rup­ture forces the com­pany to halt pro­duc­tion off Santa Bar­bara County.

Los Angeles Times - - THE STATE - By Javier Pan­zar javier. pan­zar@ latimes. com Twit­ter: @javier­pan­zar

ExxonMo­bil has shut down oil pro­duc­tion at its three plat­forms off the Santa Bar­bara County coast a month af­ter a cor­roded pipeline owned by Texas com­pany Plains All Amer­i­can Pipeline burst, es­sen­tially cut­ting off the flow of Exxon’s crude.

The oil gi­ant halted oper­a­tions at the Her­itage, Har­mony and Hondo off­shore plat­forms late last week af­ter it ex­hausted stor­age space at an on­shore fa­cil­ity near El Cap­i­tan State Beach, com­pany spokesman Richard Keil said Tues­day.

The com­pany had hoped to avoid a shut­down by us­ing a fleet of 6,720- gallon trucks to make as many as 192 daily trip­son U. S. 101 to ship theoil to nearby re­finer­ies.

A Santa Bar­bara County of­fi­cial re­jected that “emer­gency” pro­posal for an ex­pe­dited truck­ing per­mit this month.

Prior to the shut­down, Exxon had slowed daily pro­duc­tion by nearly two- thirds and be­gan stor­ing oil in large tanks af­ter the May 19 rup­ture spilled up to 101,000 gal­lons of crude oil along the Gaviota coast.

“They are all filled up right now,” said Kevin Drude, the head of Santa Bar­bara County’s energy di­vi­sion.

The com­pany is con­sid­er­ing its next steps dur­ing the tem­po­rary shut­down, Keil said.

Exxon could ap­ply for a non­emer­gency truck­ing per­mit, which would re­quire an en­vi­ron­men­tal re­view that would take sev­eral months, county of­fi­cials said.

The spill has forced the clo­sure of four other off­shore plat­forms.

Venoco Inc.’ s plat­form Holly near Go­leta shut­down days af­ter the spill.

Three plat­forms owned by petroleum com­pany Freeport- McMoRan Inc. near Point Conception have been shut down for weeks, Drude said.

Freeport- McMoRan’s plat­form Irene off Point Ped­er­nales near Vandenberg Air Force Base uses a dif­fer­ent pipeline and is still pro­duc­ing oil.

Line 901, the rup­tured sec­tion of pipe, trans­ports oil from the Las Flores pump sta­tion to one in Gaviota, where it meets Line 903. From there, the crude oil trav­els 128 miles to Kern County.

Plains All Amer­i­can Pipeline, which owns both lines, shut them down af­ter the spill.

As much as 21,000 gal­lons of the lost oil spilled into the ocean, and state of­fi­cials said Mon­day that tar balls fromthe spill had reached as far as Man­hat­tan Beach.

The bro­ken pipeline was ex­ten­sively cor­roded, ac­cord­ing to fed­eral reg­u­la­tors.

The sec­tion of pipe that broke had worn down to 1/ 16 of an inch, and in­ves­ti­ga­tors found a 6- inch crack along the bot­tom of the pipe, ac­cord­ing to pre­lim­i­nary find­ings from the fed­eral Pipeline and Haz­ardous Ma­te­ri­als Safety Ad­min­is­tra­tion.

Since the spill, 103 dead mam­mals and 192 dead birds have been col­lected from the spill area, ac­cord­ing to re­sponse of­fi­cials.

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