About Marine Oil Terminal Engineering and Maintenance Standards (MOTEMS)

The Marine Oil Terminal Engineering and Maintenance Standards (MOTEMS) establish minimum engineering, inspection and maintenance criteria for all marine oil terminals in California, in order to prevent oil spills and protect public health, safety and the environment. To ensure that the best achievable protection is provided, the Commission is continuously updating the MOTEMS Regulations through Rulemaking in a public and transparent manner, allowing abundant opportunities for public participation.

These comprehensive standards contain requirements for assessment of the structural, mechanical and electrical systems at marine oil terminals, including, but not limited to:

  • Audits
  • Above Water and Underwater Inspections
  • Structural Evaluation
  • Seismic Analyses
  • Berthing and Mooring
  • Geotechnical
  • Fire Prevention, Detection and Suppression
  • Piping / Pipelines
  • Mechanical and Electrical Equipment
  • Electrical Systems

Each terminal operator is required to perform complete audits and inspections of their marine oil terminal on a prescribed periodic basis (typically every four years) to assess the facility's fitness-for-purpose. The Audit Manual and Checklists are useful tools in performing such activities. The MOTEMS audit and inspection results are then summarized in the Executive Summary Tables. When deficiencies are identified, the Commission works closely with operators to prioritize and ensure implementation of repairs and upgrades in a timely manner.

New marine oil terminals and new berthing systems are required to have MOTEMS compliant evaluations (analyses and designs) prior to construction, and to complete an initial audit prior to commencement of operations. 

For existing marine oil terminals, all proposed new, substantially modified or re-designed structural, mooring, fire, piping/pipelines, mechanical or electrical systems or components shall also be subject to MOTEMS compliant review by the Commission, and shall be MOTEMS compliant prior to use or reuse. As-built re-verification may be performed. 

MOTEMS also requires Post-Event Notification and Inspection following significant, potentially damage-causing event, such as an earthquake, storm, vessel impact, passing vessel incident, fire, explosion or tsunami.

More information regarding MOTEMS Case Studies and Other Applications are also available.

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Information and Resources



Senior Engineer
Dr. Avinash Nafday, P.E. (562) 499-6312