Rincon Decommissioning Phases

Apr 5, 2024 | Oil and Gas

Phase 1

Phase 1 is to plug and abandon the 75 State wells on the former leases and perform ancillary work necessary to leave the site in a safe condition pending determination of final site disposition. This includes 25 onshore wells and 50 island wells. Two additional onshore wells, known as Hobson Fee wells, were abandoned in coordination with the Geologic Energy Management Division (CalGEM), for a total of 77 well abandonments. As of December 2020, all production wells onshore and all offshore wells on Rincon Island were plugged and abandoned in accordance with Commission and CalGEM regulations. After each onshore well was plugged, all well sites, including the cement well cellars and remnants, were cleared and restored to their natural condition, removing any visual trace of the well. Tanks, vessels, piping, and other oil production equipment are also removed during Phase 1. This work, plugging wells first then restoring all well sites at once, reduced costs and minimized delay and risk of pollution. The onshore site clearance work was performed pursuant to an existing conditional use permit and zoning clearance application from the County of Ventura. Offshore site clearance work was performed pursuant to a de minimis waiver issued by the California Coastal Commission.  All remaining work ancillary to plug and abandonment both onshore and offshore was completed as of June 30, 2021, and the sites were placed in caretaker status. The Commission’s Phase 1 contractor, Driltek, Inc., will continue to maintain the offshore and onshore sites in caretaker status and provide security until the Commission decides on a decommissioning plan, as outlined below.

Phase 2

Phase 2 is to develop a decommissioning plan for the disposition of Rincon Island, the onshore facility, and the causeway. This includes a feasibility study and California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) documentation.

In September 2020, the Commission released a solicitation for an environmental consultant to conduct a feasibility study and prepare CEQA documentation to evaluate decommissioning alternatives for the disposition of the island, onshore facility, and causeway. Decommissioning alternatives include retention of the island and causeway, retention of the island and removal of the causeway, removal of both the island and causeway, and repurposing options for the island and onshore site, which may involve partial removal of remaining facilities.

Eight highly qualified firms responded. Staff interviewed the four most qualified candidates and selected Padre Associates, Inc. as the Phase 2 contractor. In August 2022, the Commission adopted a proposed project and various alternatives, informed by the final Feasibility Study, to analyze in the EIR for the Phase 2 project. The EIR process will likely take 12 to 15 months to complete. All aspects of Phase 2 will include extensive public outreach and stakeholder engagement. We established an email address where the public can submit decommissioning ideas and comments, which is Rincon.Phase2@slc.ca.gov.

Phase 3

Phase 3 is to execute a decommissioning plan for the disposition of Rincon Island, the onshore facility, and the causeway. The Phase 3 decommissioning plan will be decided on at the conclusion of Phase 2, after analysis under CEQA. This phase, which will happen when Phase 2 is complete, will require discretionary approval of the proposed decommissioning plan by the Commission, approvals by other governmental agencies, funding and hiring a decommissioning contractor.



Final Rincon Phase 2 Decommissioning


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Cynthia Herzog

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Sheri Pemberton