Since the State Lands Commission started decommissioning Platform Holly in May 2017, the pressure in the wells has sent oil up the casing strings. That oil has been stored at the Ellwood Onshore Facility and the hydrogen sulfide removed, but the tanks are nearing capacity. As of November 20, tanker trucks began removing roughly 3,000 barrels of oil and taking it to the Phillips 66 refinery in Arroyo Grande, a process that will continue until December 11, at a rate of about two trucks per day.
State Lands took over Platform Holly after its operator, Venoco, filed for bankruptcy and quitclaimed its leases in the offshore Ellwood Field and also at two Ellwood Beach wells, known as Pier 421. With its contractor Beacon West Energy, the state agency completed the work at Pier 421 this fall. For a couple days last week, a contractor, Cushman Contracting Corporation, removed pipes protruding from the cliff face, hazards left since the Ellwood area was developed for oil extraction in the 1920s and exposed by cliff erosion after heavy waves.
Beacon had plugged 14 of Holly’s 30 wells before COVID-19 intervened on the platform in March, as it has in everyday life. The state pulled back personnel as safe distancing was not possible, and Beacon West remains onsite to secure the platform for maintenance and security.
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