Oil Spill Prevention

Platform Emmy Close up Taken by Spill drill team

The Commission has leasing jurisdiction at offshore oil production facilities on ungranted sovereign lands within three nautical miles of the coast, including at oil producing islands and offshore oil platforms, and oversight jurisdiction over offshore oil production facilities within lands that have been granted to local jurisdictions. The Commission also has certain regulatory jurisdiction over the transfer of oil at marine oil terminals. The Commission is responsible for the prevention aspect of the State's oil spill prevention and response program.

Facility Safety Photo taken by DOGGR

The authority for the Commission's oil spill program is in the Lempert-Keene-Seastrand Oil Spill Prevention and Response Act of 1990. This act covers all aspects of marine oil spill prevention and response in California and divides enforcement between the Commission and the Office of Oil Spill Prevention and Response, a division of the California Department of Fish and Wildlife.

"18 ft emergency response with boom 6-23-2011- Taken by Spill Drill Team"

The Commission regulates all marine oil terminals in the state to provide the best achievable protection of public health, safety, and the environment. Our jurisdiction applies to onshore marine oil terminals and to oil producing islands and offshore oil platforms in state waters. The Commission's priority is preventing an oil spill in state waters. Every day, tens of millions of gallons of oil are transferred over water through pipelines and at California's marine oil terminals. The Commission's oil spill prevention program has successfully limited the number and severity of oil spills at in state waters. This is a testament to the commitment and dedication to safety by our lessees and our staff.

  • Marine Oil Terminals

    The Commission has enacted strict regulations for marine oil terminals. These regulations apply to marine oil terminal operations and the building standards for marine oil terminal structures. The building standard component of the regulations, commonly referred to as MOTEMS, establish minimum engineering, inspection and maintenance criteria for marine oil terminals. The Commission regularly updates these regulations to ensure that they use the best available technologies and ensure maximum protection of the marine environment. All updates include opportunities for public participation.

    The Commission monitors marine oil transfer operations seven days a week. In addition, it inspects the state’s oil islands and platforms on a monthly basis. The Commission performs safety inspections and audits and work with the operators to immediately correct any issues. These inspections include an assessment of such items as operational procedures, personnel training, terminal structures, and piping. Part of this includes verifying that there are adequate personnel to respond to an emergency and that those personnel are trained on how to respond to an emergency.

  • Well Work

    In addition to its regulations for marine oil transfers, the Commission also has strict regulations related to well drilling on state leases. No well can be drilled that does not meet the Commission’s strict drilling regulations. Prior to drilling any well, a lessee must provide the Commission staff with details of its proposed well plan and copies of all relevant permits. Finally, when it comes time to drill the well, Commission staff is either present or receiving near-continuous updates.

  • Safety Audits

    The Commission staff conducts safety and spill prevention audits for drilling, production, and processing facilities on a five-year cycle. These audits comprehensively assess the design and condition of each platform and shore-side facility under the Commission’s jurisdiction and the programs put in place by the operators to assure continued safe production.

  • Oil Spill Contingency Plans

    Commission staff also review and comment on oil spill contingency plans for oil and gas operations to ensure that they are consistent with current conditions and address the specific context of the operation. These plans are filled with the Office of Spill Prevention and Response.

  • The Lempert-Keene-Seastrand Oil Spill Prevention and Response Act Compendium

Oil Spill Prevention Program Reports

Existing law requires the Commission to prepare and submit a detailed report by January 1, 2013, and every four years thereafter, to the Governor and the Legislature on the financial basis and programmatic effectiveness of the state’s oil spill prevention, response and preparedness program. These reports recommend measures to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of the state’s oil spill prevention, response, and preparedness program, including measures to modify existing contingency plan requirements, to improve protection of sensitive shoreline sites, and to ensure adequate and equitable funding for the state’s oil spill, prevention, response and preparedness program.