Archive for the ‘California’ Category

Lawrence Livermore is receiving attention for concluding that the Covid pandemic most likely arose from a laboratory leak in Wuhan.

This reminded me of an important Lawrence Livermore project that was funded by the Minerals Management Service in 1995. The study considered seismic hazard criteria for offshore platforms on the California OCS. My colleague Dr. Charles Smith, a structural engineer, had an important role in this research. Charles had been instrumental in the establishment of an earthquake measurement network in the Pacific Region. The measurement system at Platform Grace in the Santa Barbara Channel  successfully recorded 5 earthquakes and the structural responses at multiple locations on the platform.

Lawrence Livermore and the other national laboratories have many outstanding scientists and engineers. The national labs do excellent work, although their studies are a bit pricey 😉

Platform Grace

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A group of international shipping companies and their subsidiaries tentatively agreed Wednesday to pay $96.5 million to Houston-based Amplify Energy Corp. to dismiss one of the last remaining lawsuits over the oil spill, which sent at least 25,000 gallons of crude into the waters off Huntington Beach in October 2021.

LA Times
MSC Danit and Beijing were ID’d by Sky Truth as likely dragging anchors over the damaged Beta Unit pipeline

Although the Coast Guard’s investigation report has yet to be published, available information suggests that the pipeline was well maintained and that Amplify’s Beta Unit facilities had a good safety and compliance record. Absent the anchor dragging captured in the above image, a spill would have been highly unlikely. The large settlement in favor of Amplify is therefore quite understandable.

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MSC Danit and Beijing were ID’d by Sky Truth as likely dragging anchors over the damaged Beta Unit pipeline

Per the LA Times, companies linked to the cargo ships accused of dragging anchors over Amplify Energy’s pipeline have agreed to pay $45 million to settle lawsuits. The ships were identified by Sky Truth (see above image) shortly after the spill (October 1, 2021).

Meanwhile, Amplify is suing the vessel owners for damaging the pipeline and failing to notify the authorities after the damage occurred. Amplify would seem to have a good case given that inspection reports indicate that the pipeline was in good shape prior to the anchor damage and that the Beta Unit platforms had a good safety and compliance record.

Finally, when will we see the investigation report for this spill? It has now been nearly 17 months since the incident.

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A.S. Bull and M.S. Love

When Exxon was unable to get approval for an onshore oil processing facility, the company installed this offshore storage and treatment (OS&T) vessel and single anchor leg mooring (SALM) 3.5 miles from shore, just seaward of the State-Federal boundary. The OS&T, a converted tanker, operated from 1981 to 1994. By 1994, the onshore gas processing facility in Las Flores Canyon had been expanded to process Santa Ynez crude, eliminating the need for the OS&T. While the OS&T had a very good performance record, the highly visible vessel was less than endearing to most Santa Barbara County residents, and there was no apparent sadness when the OS&T and SALM were decommissioned in 1995.

Current Santa Ynez Unit facilities:

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Per our previous post on the complex status of the Santa Ynez Unit, Lars Herbst has brought this informative article to our attention. Here is the bottom line:

With this deal, Exxon is essentially lending Flame, Sable’s management team and PIPE investors the money to buy the facilities from itself. If they are able to get them back online, great, Exxon gets its $623 million loan paid back with 10% interest. If not, it presumably repossesses the facilities and their associated headaches.

This is what has been produced and what remains:

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Details on the Santa Barbara blowout from last year’s BOE post.

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My former colleague John Smith, an expert on Pacific Region decommissioning, advises me that production has ceased at Platform Irene in the Santa Maria Basin offshore California. Irene, the first platform installed in the Santa Maria District in 1985, was a milestone in Pacific OCS development.

Only 7 of the 23 Pacific OCS platforms are still producing. Attached is an updated summary table that John prepared for an upcoming SPE event in Alaska.

More on California OCS decommissioning.

Platform Irene, Santa Maria Basin

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As we approach the end of 2022, I’m still waiting for:

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Only Equinor is a familiar name to the offshore oil and gas industry, so here are some blurbs about the other high bidders.

California North Floating, LLC, is a subsidiary of Copenhagen Infrastructure Partners (CIP), and RWE Offshore Wind Holdings, LLC, a German multinational energy company. (So it looks like RWE purchased one lease and is a partner in another.) Since entering the US offshore market in 2016, CIP has built a leading offshore wind position through its affiliate Vineyard Offshore. This includes Vineyard Wind 1, the country’s first commercial scale offshore wind project which is currently under construction, as well as two lease areas under development totaling approximately 5.0 GW off the coast of Massachusetts and New York.

Central California Offshore Wind is managed by an East Coast offshore wind energy company, Ocean Winds North America LLC, which formed a joint venture with the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board to win the lease. Ocean Winds has more than 10 years of experience in floating offshore wind, most notably through the development and operation of Windfloat Atlantic (offshore Portugal), the world’s first fully commercially operational floating offshore wind farm

Equinor, a Norwegian company, is a major international oil and gas producer, an important wind energy investor, and a leader in the development of floating wind turbine technology. Equinor operates the Hywind Tampen floating offshore wind farm which will supply power to Norwegian offshore oil and gas fields.

Invenergy and its affiliated companies develop, own, and operate large-scale renewable and other clean energy generation and storage facilities in the Americas, Europe and Asia. Invenergy’s home office is located in Chicago, and it has regional development offices in the United States, Canada, Mexico, Spain, Japan, Poland, and Scotland.

RWE Renewables has experience covering the offshore and onshore wind energy value chain from development to construction and operation. These activities are the responsibility of two functional units, “Unit Renewables Europe & Australia” and “Unit Offshore Wind”, as well as the subsidiary RWE Renewables Americas. RWE Renewables also invests in large-scale solar projects and supports power producers, plant operators and other stakeholders in the development, construction and operation of photovoltaic and solar energy plants as well as in the construction of battery storage systems. The focus is on large-scale industrial projects.

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California offshore wind sale: 5 leases, $757.1 million in high bids

The California wind sale bidding, while lower than the record Atlantic sale in February, was extraordinary given that the 5 leases are relatively distant from shore (20+ miles) and in water depths (537 to 1284 m) that dictate the use of floating turbines. Generous subsidies, credits, and State mandates no doubt contributed to the seemingly inflated bidding, as did an auction system that is designed to maximize bonus payments.

Given the slow progress in US offshore wind development, the setbacks the industry is experiencing, the added challenges associated with commercial deepwater development, the potential cost burden on taxpayers and power customers, and the government’s financial and policy support, a more development-friendly leasing system would seem to be prudent. BOEM took a step in that direction with the with the limited training and supply chain credits provided for in the Sale Notice, but fundamental changes in the auction system may be desirable.

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