South Ellwood Field Leases
On April 17, 2017, the Commission received documents from Venoco, LLC quitclaiming its interests in the South Ellwood Field leases, including Platform Holly and the Ellwood Beach pier leases offshore the City of Goleta.
This effectively ends commercial oil and gas production in state waters at this location in the Santa Barbara Channel and returns operational control of these assets to the Commission. California's Coastal Sanctuary Act prohibits the Commission from issuing new offshore oil and gas leases. The Commission will now begin the process of decommissioning Platform Holly.
The Commission will ensure that the wells and facilities are secured and maintained while it develops a plan, in coordination with local and state regulatory agencies, to efficiently and safely address the disposition of the wells, platform and piers. The process for decommissioning the facilities and plugging and abandoning the approximately 32 wells on state property will be expensive, complex, and lengthy. The Commission is dedicated to a robust, transparent, and collaborative process with the City of Goleta, Santa Barbara County and other local communities and stakeholders in developing a decommissioning plan. Protecting public health and safety and the marine environment is paramount.
The Commission is sensitive to the significant impact this situation has on Venoco employees and contractors, the local economies of the City of Goleta and Santa Barbara County, and the community recipients of Venoco's philanthropy. Venoco has operated the South Ellwood Field since 1997, when it acquired the leases from ExxonMobil. Since then, Venoco has generated approximately $160 million in state revenue from royalties and rent, without any significant oil spills on state property. The Commission thanks Venoco employees for safely managing the State’s oil and gas resources for the past 20 years.