About the Marine Oil Terminal Engineering and Maintenance Standards

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
  • Requirements specific to marine terminals that transfer LNG

Each terminal operator is required to 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 MOTEMS Audit Manual is a useful tool in performing such activities. The MOTEMS audit and inspection results are then summarized in the MOTEMS Executive Summary Tables, and where 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 or recommencement of operations. 

For existing marine oil terminals, all proposed new, substantially modified or re-designed structural, berthing, mooring, fire, piping/pipeline, 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 required. 

The MOTEMS Section 3102F.4.1 requires a 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. If the marine oil terminal operator and/or Division determine that a post-event inspection is required, the terminal operator shall take the prescribed actions. The primary purpose is to assess the integrity of structural, mechanical and electrical systems. This assessment will determine the operational status and/or any remedial measures required. The notification shall include, at a minimum:

  • A brief description of the event
  • A brief description of the nature, extent and significance of any damage observed as a result of the event
  • The operational status and any required restrictions
  • A statement as to whether a Post-Event inspection will be carried out.

The commission works diligently to review each terminal operator's compliance with the MOTEMS regulations and ensure conformity of the built marine oil terminal. More information regarding MOTEMS Case Studies and Other Applications are also available.

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Additional Information

Audit Manual and Checklists

The MOTEMS Audit Manual provides a structured template for methodically documenting a marine oil terminal's characteristics and assessing compliance during MOTEMS audits. The Manual is a compilation of 11 Checklists, one for each substantive Division/Section of MOTEMS. While not required for MOTEMS compliance purposes, these checklists have proven to be useful tools for compliance assessment and communications between terminal owners and operators, MOTEMS audit teams, and the Commission.

The "draft" MOTEMS Audit Manual templates (revised May 5, 2017) are available upon request. Please note that these templates may require updates.



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