Platform Holly / Venoco, LLC Bankruptcy

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Photo of Platform Holly taken by CSLC staff, Steve Curran

In April 2017, Venoco quitclaimed its interests in the South Ellwood Field leases, including Platform Holly and the Ellwood Beach pier leases near the City of Goleta. The quitclaim ends commercial oil and gas production in state waters 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 has selected Beacon West Energy Group, LLC as its contractor to operate and maintain Platform Holly and the Ellwood Onshore Facility and to plug and abandon the 32 wells associated with Platform Holly and Piers 421. Beacon West, under the Commission's oversight, began ensuring the security and safe daily operations and maintenance at Platform Holly and the Ellwood Onshore Facility In September 2017.

In August 2017, ExxonMobil issued a Letter of Intent to participate in the plug and abandoned of the wells. The next step is to negotiate with ExxonMobil on an agreement to conduct the plug and abandonment work, consistent with state and local laws and regulations.

The process for plugging and abandoning the wells and the eventual decommissioning is expensive, complex, and lengthy. The Commission understands that the community and others are interested in this process. Staff will outreach with state and local regulatory agencies over the next year and host local forums, with the aim of facilitating public engagement.

The Commission is sensitive to the 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 had operated the South Ellwood Field since 1997 when it acquired the leases from ExxonMobil. 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.