Oil Spill Prevention

The Lempert-Keene-Seastrand Oil Spill Prevention and Response Act of 1990 covers all aspects of marine oil spill prevention and response and divides enforcement between the Commission and the Office of Spill Prevention and Response, a division of the Department of Fish and Wildlife. The Commission is responsible for the prevention aspects of the Program.

The Commission issues leases for offshore oil production facilities within three nautical miles of the coast, including oil producing islands and offshore oil platforms. The Commission also oversees offshore oil production facilities on sovereign lands that were granted to local jurisdictions. The Commission regulates every marine oil terminal in California. These programs provide the best achievable protection of public health, safety, and the environment and to prevent an oil spill in state waters. The Commission's oil spill prevention program has successfully limited the number and severity of oil spills in state waters. This is a testament to the commitment and dedication to safety by our lessees and our staff.

Marine Oil Terminals

Platform Emmy Close up Taken by Spill drill team

The Marine Environmental Protection Division operates a marine oil terminal monitoring and inspection program, with responsibility divided between its field offices in Hercules (Northern California) and Long Beach (Southern California). Every day, nearly two million barrels of oil are transferred over water through pipelines between ship and shore at California's marine oil terminals. Our professional safety staff inspect marine oil terminal transfer operations daily at 34 sites along the California coast, and inspect activities and enforce regulatory requirements. Inspections include observing and assessing oil transfers to and from tankers and barges at marine oil terminals.

  • Annual / Spot Inspections

    Safety staff conduct comprehensive annual/spot inspections at each marine oil terminal. These periodic inspections examine structural, pipeline, electrical, and other equipment which may pose an oil spill risk. Operational procedures are reviewed and marine terminal personnel oil handling training and certification is examined (Article 5.3).

  • Monitoring Priority System

    The Marine Environmental Protection Division uses a marine terminal priority monitoring system to ensure that the most critical and significant oil transfer operations are monitored. This system ranks the marine oil terminal and each tank ship and tank barge operating in the marine waters based on the rate of prior monitoring, noting "violations and flagging" for enhanced inspections. This information is documented in the Commission's Oil Spill Prevention Database. The database is relied upon to ensure regulatory compliance, to monitor prevention activities, and to manage other daily operational tasks.

  • Pipeline Inspection

    The Marine Environmental Protection Division monitors marine oil terminal pipelines to ensure that pipelines are tested and maintained. The monitoring is consistent with regulatory requirements in Article 5.5, static liquid pressure test, API 570, and 49 CFR testing procedures.

  • Operation Manual Review

    The Marine Environmental Protection Division is responsible for reviewing marine oil terminal operations manuals. Operators that transfer petroleum products between a marine vessel/tank barge and a marine oil terminal are required to prepare the operations manuals. The Division reviews operation manual amendments to ensure regulatory requirements are met, consistent with Article 5.0.

  • Marine Oil Terminal Engineering and Maintenance Standards (MOTEMS)

    The Marine Oil Terminal Engineering and Maintenance Standards, known as MOTEMS, are rigorous building standards adopted to upgrade aging and design new terminals to ensure better resistance to earthquakes, protect public health and the environment, and reduce the potential of an oil spill. The MOTEMS, as part of the California Building Code (24 CCR, Chapter 31F et. seq), apply to all marine oil terminals in California, and establish minimum engineering, inspection, and maintenance criteria for marine oil terminals to protect public health, safety and the environment.

  • Oil Spill Contingency Plans

    Marine Environmental Protection Division staff review and comment on oil spill contingency plans for each marine oil terminal to ensure the best achievable protection of state waters and natural resources. The California Department of Fish and Wildlife, Office of Spill Prevention and Response, approves the plans.

Offshore Oil and Gas Facilities

  • Platform Inspection Program

    The Mineral Resources Management Division staff inspects offshore oil production equipment monthly, consistent with its regulations (2CCR Article 3.3 and Article 3.4). The inspections include physical testing of production and processing alarms and shutdowns: including each well’s surface and subsurface safety valves; toxic and combustible gas detectors; fire and smoke detection equipment; fire, abandon platform, and man overboard alarms; pipeline alarms; the emergency shutdown system; fire pumps, deluge and fire control system; and the emergency generator. Navigational aid functionality is checked and spill response equipment is inventoried. Staff also reviews maintenance records of PSV (pressure relief), cathodic protection rectifiers (corrosion control), fire fighting equipment, and lifesaving equipment. And pipeline right-of-way surveillance, spill drill, and boom deployment records are checked for compliance with required schedules. Each inspection requires two to three days to complete and involves inspecting about 300 safety items on each facility. If deficiencies are not corrected immediately, the affected equipment is shut down and isolated, which may require shut in of the entire facility. The platform inspections ensure that the integrity of platform safety systems and ensure that equipment is available and in good operating condition to respond to emergencies and spills.

  • Safety Audit Program
    Facility Safety Photo taken by DOGGR

    The Mineral Resources Management Division staff comprehensively audits offshore oil and gas production facilities on a five-year cycle. The audits, designed to ensure facilities are operating in accordance with CCR articles 3.3, 3.4 and 3.6, assess the design and condition of each platform and shore-side facility and the programs operators have to assure safe production. Staff analyzes the technical design of safety systems on oil and gas drilling and production facilities and verifies that the alarms and controls are installed and operate as designed. Staff also reviews equipment maintenance and corrosion prevention and inspection programs to evaluate fitness for purpose of pressure vessels, tanks, and piping. A third-party contractor analyzes and inspects the design, maintenance, and condition of electrical distribution systems.

    Training and qualification programs at platforms and oil facilities are reviewed to assure competent operation of the facility. And the Facility Operating Manual and Spill Prevention Plan is reviewed to evaluate procedure adequacy for normal operation, upset conditions, and response to spill incidents. Organizational safety culture, the human factor element, and the level of maturity of safety programs are evaluated by a Safety Assessment of Management Systems (SAMS) procedure, which assesses these factors through confidential interviews with a cross-section of company operators, engineers, management, and contractors. The Commission’s SAMS program is a model for other state and federal agencies. Safety audits provide a comprehensive evaluation of facility design, condition, procedures, and personnel. Audits usually result in a matrix of action items that are prioritized by risk. Staff follows up to ensure corrective action items are implemented.

  • Well Work

    The Commission has strict regulations related to well drilling and production on state leases. A well cannot be drilled, or abandoned, if it does not meet the Commission's regulations in 2CCR Articles 3.2 and 3.4, and all industry and Code specifications. Requirements include proper blowout prevention equipment, proper casing design, contingencies for hydrogen sulfide and oil spill response, critical curtailment plans, and abandonment of wells. Prior to drilling or abandoning any well, a lessee must provide the Commission details about its proposed well plan and copies of permits. When wells are drilled, Commission staff is usually present during critical times or during well testing, and receives daily updates about the drilling and completion activities. As a result of the April 2010 blowout of the Deepwater drilling rig in the Gulf of Mexico, blowout prevention equipment requires third party verification of fitness for purpose.

  • Pipeline Inspection

    Our Mineral Resources Management Division is responsible for overseeing operation and maintenance of all offshore oil and gas pipelines pursuant to California Oil Production Regulations (§2132 (h) Pipeline Operations and Maintenance) and pursuant to the Offshore California Pipeline Inspection Survey memorandum of agreement between State and Federal agencies. The Division monitors 34 offshore oil, gas, and utility (water) pipelines ranging from 3 inches to 24 inches diameter (majority of 6 to 12 inches diameter) that extend a distance of 0.5 to 9.6 miles in state waters. Statewide, 11 pipelines originate from State facilities and 23 Federal pipelines pass through State waters. All pipelines that cross state waters carrying oil and gas are inspected annually both internally and externally.

    Internal inspections are done by pumping an electronic magnetic flux tool through the pipeline. A hydrostatic test to 1.5 times the maximum operating pressure of the pipeline is required if a smart pig run is not mechanically feasible. The test equipment and procedures must have prior approval, and the results of the tests must be reviewed and approved by Mineral Resources Management Division engineers, in order to continue pipeline operation. External inspection of a submerged pipeline may be conducted by a diver or remote operating vehicle (ROV). The external inspection is used to detect damage, movement, free spans (unsupported section of pipeline), or foreign objects lying across the pipeline that may cause failure due to physical movement or accelerated corrosion. Video tapes and diver reports of external pipeline inspections are reviewed by Division engineers, and corrective actions coordinated with the pipeline operator if necessary.

  • Oil Spill Contingency Plans

    The Mineral Resources Management Division staff review and comment on oil spill contingency plans for each oil and gas facility to ensure the best achievable protection of state waters and natural resources. The California Department of Fish and Wildlife, Office of Spill Prevention and Response, approves the plans.

  • Operations Manual Review

    The Mineral Resources Management Division reviews offshore oil and gas drilling and production facility operations manuals. All offshore oil and gas drilling and production operations, whether platforms, islands, or pipelines, are required to prepare operations manuals that meet or exceed our regulations and industry standards, and to keep those approved manuals on site and available to the crews working on those facilities. The Division also reviews operations manual amendments to ensure regulatory requirements are met, consistent with 2CCR Article 3.6.

Oil Spill Prevention Program Reports

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

Every four years, the Commission is required to contract with the Department of Finance for the preparation of a detailed report to the Governor and the Legislature on the financial basis and programmatic effectiveness of the state's oil spill prevention, response, and preparedness program. The report analyzes the oil spill prevention, response, and preparedness program's major expenditures, fees and fines collected, staffing and equipment levels, spills responded to, and other relevant issues. The report includes recommendations 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.