Venoco's Platform Holly

Venoco's Platform Holly

Venoco Denies Acidizing Off Goleta Coast

Oil Company Issues Statement Refuting Environmental Report

Friday, February 14, 2014
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On Wednesday, one day after a report was released claiming that Venoco Inc. was using a technique known as matrix acidizing to stimulate production from the wells that they access from Platform Holly off of the Goleta coast, the Carpinteria-based oil company issued a brief statement denying that they were using the process for extraction purposes.

“Venoco does not hydraulically fracture or matrix acidize any wells on Platform Holly,” said Venoco spokesperson Lisa Rivas in an email to The Santa Barbara Independent. Instead, she explained, “Acid has been used to clean the well bores drilled from Platform Holly for several decades. This is a process that has been used in onshore and offshore oil wells around the world for generations.”

That’s directly contrary to the report released on Tuesday by the Environmental Defense Center, whose student intern, Matthew Buggert, was funded by a UCSB Coastal Fund grant to research the state’s public records related to the platform, which is offshore of the campus. According to the report and subsequent conversations with EDC attorney Brian Segee, Venoco had, since 2006, applied for and been issued 10 permits whose language suggested that the process was being used to extract more resources rather than just clean wells.

To the EDC and other environmental groups, acidizing, in which hydrochloric and/or hydrofluoric acid is pumped into the ground to free up oil, represents a potentially dangerous situation, since the practice has not undergone extra scrutiny, particularly in regards to offshore drilling. To them, it’s just like hydraulic fracturing, a.k.a. fracking, which has caused a loud and constant nationwide uproar. Like fracking, acidizing is currently being analyzed by State Bill 4, which will establish a brand new set of regulations for these well stimulation techniques by January 2015.

Specifically, Segee said that the records, which were found at the state’s Division of Oil, Gas, and Geothermal Resources in Santa Maria and were also reviewed by a third party expert with oil industry engineering experience, cited one reference to a “pump acid stimulation job” and further references to “acid job”s that used chemicals in the same way. Segee also said that the use of multiple fluids for “preflush,” stimulating, and “overflush” as well as the use of a “diverter” comprised of benzoic acid flakes made them more confident of Venoco’s matrix acidizing. (There is also the process of fracture acidizing, which is basically fracking, but with pressurized acid as a base instead of water and chemicals; the EDC report does not suggest Venoco has done this.)

When asked to further clarify that Venoco was denying the allegations raised in the EDC’s report, Rivas replied again via email on Thursday morning, explaining that the previous statement was all that the company was prepared to say on the matter.

Acidizing aside, that original statement also clarified how the platform works in general. “Platform Holly is a zero-discharge platform — meaning nothing is released to the ocean, not even rain water off the decks of the platform,” said Rivas in the Wednesday afternoon email. “Every drop of fluid is captured and contained. All of Venoco’s offshore and onshore operations are highly regulated and we pride ourselves on adherence to all state and local regulations. The regulators approve all Venoco’s plans for oil development and receive regular reports on all our operations.”


Independent Discussion Guidelines

What's keeping us from a world run on 100% wind, water and solar energy?

nitrogen (anonymous profile)
February 14, 2014 at 11:22 a.m. (Suggest removal)

One problem is cost.

The authors write on page 64 that "the overall construction cost for a WWS system might be on the order of $100 trillion worldwide, over 20 years, not including transmission."

Where's that capital going to come from, in a world many of whose countries are poor or currently awash in debt?

Another problem is timing.

Suppose we take your advice and start phasing out fossil fuels such that none will be produced any longer by 2030. This means that companies currently in that industry will stop investing in large long term projects now. It means that oil production will start to decline relatively quickly. If the timing works out perfectly, then that's great! But what if the authors are off by 10-20 years and the new technologies aren't developed and/or affordable until say 2050? We will have decades of fuel supply shortages and energy crises, due to underinvestment in fossil fuels that would ensue once the policy was in place. This situation would cripple the world's economies and probably hurt the poor more than anyone else. It would be a disaster.

I think the transition needs to be made responsibly, with an eye to the implications and possible unintended consequences of any enforced policy of global scale.

swimmer (anonymous profile)
February 14, 2014 at 1:33 p.m. (Suggest removal)

"That’s directly contrary to the report released on Tuesday by the Environmental Defense Center, whose student intern, Matthew Buggert, was funded by a UCSB Coastal Fund grant to research the state’s public records related to the platform, which is offshore of the campus."

So UCSB is funding the ENVIRO Police? Shouldn't this be a matter for the EPA instead of an student intern at UCSB? What is the jurisdiction of the UCSB Coastal Fund grant? This is kind of amusing as it is just the first salvo by UCSB to rid itself of platform Holly because it lies within a MPA (Marine Protected Area).

bimboteskie (anonymous profile)
February 14, 2014 at 1:59 p.m. (Suggest removal)

When you live out here near Holly you know that Venoco is not forthcoming about their H2S and other gas releases. They definitely spin and obfuscate.

Were they open, honest, and good neighbors, it might be possible to accommodate them. But they are not; they stonewall and deny.

Try to find any interest from Venoco in the Child Care Center near their facility or either of the Elementary schools where children breathe Venoco fumes. Venoco just buys support through donations to influential groups, not through trying to make their operations safe for their neighbors.

If platform Holly goes, or, if other oil out here goes undeveloped, the fault is entirely Venoco's for not being good citizens.

pardallchewinggumspot (anonymous profile)
February 15, 2014 at 7:52 a.m. (Suggest removal)

my buddy's step-aunt makes $82/hr on the computer. She has been out of work for 10 months but last month her paycheck was $18010 just working on the computer for a few hours. read this….

ninavikey (anonymous profile)
February 15, 2014 at 11:34 a.m. (Suggest removal)

right....let's not drill for oil.....its all peace love and tie dye.....we'll sing kum by ya around the fire pit and eat tofu for will be utopia

thomas592003 (anonymous profile)
February 15, 2014 at 5:29 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Or we can all be like Thomas and don't give a damn about our environment. No thanks .

geeber (anonymous profile)
February 15, 2014 at 5:49 p.m. (Suggest removal)

We've had a series of small earthquakes directly underneath the platform in the past 2 years. Coincidence? Unlikely.

anonymau5 (anonymous profile)
February 16, 2014 at 1:51 p.m. (Suggest removal)

The 'fumes' mentioned by bimboteskie are naturally occurring from methane leaks, aka, Coal Oil Point. It's the geology that is responsible for the oil and gas leaks, not Venoco. In fact Venoco has installed collection caps to collect some of the leakage. EDC never misses a change to hammer on the oil companies. Crying 'Wolf!' all the time may help their bottom line, but it hurts their image in the long run. When their staff stop putting gas in their guzzling Subaru 4WD cars and get on a bike maybe they will have some credibility.

dontoasthecoast (anonymous profile)
February 17, 2014 at 9:57 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Look GOOBER, or GEEBER or whatever your call youself....go find me more than ONE, yes more than one instance in which fracking has had negative, and profound environmental consequences, either here, in TX or in the Marcellus Shale in PA? find me more than once instance....I dare you....
If you cant, take a seat and shut your mouth

thomas592003 (anonymous profile)
February 18, 2014 at 1:28 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Fracking is suicide to the planet.

It is simple physics and chemistry.

If you pump poison into the ground, at pressure, it will inevitably seek a path of least resistance and contaminate drinking, ground and surface water, which efficiently spreads the poison. Ultimately, it will find an outlet to the surface and the atmosphere.

Aside from rank poison of the environment, there is growing evidence frakking is responsible for earthquakes. Research is ongoing. Recently, there have been swarms of earthquakes in areas outside typical earthquake zones (outside tectonic plate collision zones) in Oklahoma, Texas and elsewhere. The likely culprit is frakking.

One obvious test was at a major airport in Oklahoma that experienced a swarm of earthquakes. As an experiment, they shut down nearly frakking wells. The earthquakes stopped. Seems conclusive to those without industry bias.

HueyChapala (anonymous profile)
February 18, 2014 at 9:40 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Oops. Last paragraph should have read, "...nearby frakking wells."

HueyChapala (anonymous profile)
February 18, 2014 at 9:43 p.m. (Suggest removal)

I wouldn't trust Venoco with a used kleenex. When they tried to frack Carpinteria's drinking water, every aspect of the campaign was a lie. They hired non-resident's to wave signs and gather signatures to create synthetic local support. Every sign they posted was a lie, and every claim they made during the measure 'J' campaign was a lie. Venoco has a despicable track record of genocidal behavior. Please read the book "Parts per Million" by Joy Horowitz about the skyrocketing cancer rates of an L.A. High School with oil derricks working on the campus. I have spoken to Lisa Rivas, and she is a smug shameless liar who is content to poison the people of Santa Barbara County, because she is well paid and gets cushy "non-profit" positions.
Fracking = Act of war. Fracking = 700 carcinogens in your drinking water. Watch how fracking creates flammable tap water in this Academy Award winning movie:

Rinconer (anonymous profile)
February 21, 2014 at 8:02 p.m. (Suggest removal)

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