Posts Tagged ‘Beta Unit’

HOUSTON, April 10, 2023 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — Amplify Energy Corp. (“Amplify” or the “Company”) (NYSE: AMPY) today announced that it has received the required approvals from federal regulatory agencies to restart operations at the Beta Field. Initial steps to resume full operations will involve filling the San Pedro Bay Pipeline with production, a process which commenced over the past weekend and is expected to take approximately two weeks to complete. Following the line fill process, the pipeline will be operated in accordance with the restart procedures that were reviewed and approved by the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA).

Amplify Energy

Odd that the news release didn’t mention BSEE, the agency which would have had to approve the resumption of production.

18 months after the pipeline spill near Huntington Beach, settlements have been reached, fines have been paid, and production from the Beta Unit has resumed, but the Federal investigation report is still unavailable. Why?

Also, per our 10/6/2021 post:

One would hope that this spill will lead to an independent review of the regulatory regime for offshore pipelines. Consideration should be given to designating a single regulator that is responsible and accountable for offshore pipeline safety (a joint authority approach might also merit consideration) and developing a single set of clear and consistent regulations.


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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 fresh start for Aera Energy with IKAV, a German asset management company that purchased Aera from Shell and ExxonMobil.

From 1997 to 2007, Aera operated the Beta Unit offshore Huntington Beach. Since selling those facilities, all Aera operations have been conducted onshore, primarily in Kern County, a historically important California oil production area. Aera will continue to operate these onshore properties for IKAV, which looks like an interesting company.

Platforms Ellen and Elly, Beta Unit

Meanwhile, the Beta Unit has been in the news because of the October 2021 spill from the pipeline transporting Beta Unit production from Platform Elly to shore.

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NBC News Report

LA Times Report

This will be an interesting case given that the root cause of the leak appears to be anchor dragging and the responsible shipping company has yet to be identified. Also, these informed quotes about leak detection from a previous post are highly pertinent:

“My experience suggests this would be a darned hard leak to remotely determine quickly,” said Richard Kuprewicz, a private pipeline accident investigator and consultant. “An opening of this type, on a 17-mile-long (27-kilometer) underwater pipe is very hard to spot by remote indications. These crack-type releases are lower rate and can go for quite a while.”

The type of crack seen in the Coast Guard video is big enough to allow some oil to escape to potentially trigger the low pressure alarm, Kuprewicz said. But because the pipeline was operating under relatively low pressure, the control room operator may have simply dismissed the alarm because the pressure was not very high to begin, he said.

ABC News

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Vessel Finder

According to the Coast Guard, investigators determined the ship “was involved in an anchor dragging incident on Jan. 25, 2021 during a heavy weather event that impacted the Ports of L.A. and Long Beach.” The anchor- dragging occurred “in close proximity” to an underwater pipeline later determined to be the source of the October leak that spilled thousands of gallons of oil into the ocean, forcing the closure of beaches and harbors across Orange County.


The hearings and the liability battles that follow will be most interesting. Those lined up to sue the pipeline operator (Amplify), such as this Huntington Beach disc jockey, may have difficulties.

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Never Let a Good Crisis Go to Waste - FocusCFO

A group of environmental organizations demanded Wednesday that the Biden administration suspend and cancel oil and gas leases in federal waters off the California coast after a recent crude oil spill.


While not the disaster that some had predicted, this spill is another setback for California offshore production. However, cancellation of the remaining producing leases would be a very difficult and costly proposition for the Federal government. At this time, the Beta Unit operator appears to be minimally responsible for the spill, so what would be the basis for cancelling those leases? Cancelling other producible leases would be even more problematic.

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This quote from an AP article is consistent with the view expressed here after our review of the inspection reports for the Beta Unit (Platform Elly to shore) pipeline. Further per the AP article:

Safety inspections in 2015, 2017 and 2019 found anomalies in Amplify’s pipeline, including instances of metal loss and three dents that were previously repaired. But several experts who reviewed the reports said the metal loss — which can be a sign of a pipe wall thinning as it corrodes with age — was relatively minor. The dents were not in the same area as the spill.


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Aqueos 2020 external (ROV) inspection:

The 16” oil pipeline was found to be in good condition with no visible damage or anomalies.
One (1) CP test point that was installed in 2014 was found to be displaced from its location on the pipeline (this was also noted in the 2018 survey), and no damage was noted at the location (Fix #101).

Aqueos inspection report, May 2020

Pipe‐to‐electrolyte potential values recorded were:
 ‐ 921 millivolts (mV) on the 6” gas pipeline
 ‐ 910 millivolts (mV) on the 10” water pipeline
 ‐ 963 millivolts (mV) on the 10” gross fluids pipeline
 ‐ 906 millivolts (mV) on the 16” oil pipeline

As the NACE Standard SP0169‐2013 “Control of External Corrosion on Underground or Submerged Metallic Pipelines” criterion is ‐800 mV, all readings indicate that Cathodic Potential is within specifications.

Aqueos inspection report, May 2020

Metal loss data from Baker Hughes internal inspection (12/2019):

Depth of Metal LossExternal AnomaliesInternal Anomalies
Baker Hughes In-line Inspection Report, 12/30/2019

The metal loss findings are consistent with those reported in a previous internal inspection (Baker Hughes, 11/2017).

BSEE has general authority to require pipeline inspections under 30 CFR 250.1005. BSEE, the State Lands Commission, and the operator appear to have implemented an effective inspection program for the Beta Unit.

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Surfers leave the water after lifeguards enforce the closure of the ocean in Huntington Beach, Calif., Sunday, Oct. 10, 2021. The water has been closed to surfing and swimming for a week since an offshore oil pipeline leaked crude into the water off the coast of Orange County. (AP Photo/Amy Taxin)
AP Photo/Amy Taxin

Huntington Beach reopened:

Matt Harty, a 61-year-old retired construction supervisor from the nearby community of Seal Beach, said he was glad to return to the waves in Huntington Beach with other early morning surfers. He said he’s seen oil spills before and this one didn’t seem that bad, and in fact, the beach looks great.

“This is the cleanest I’ve seen the beach in years, right, because there’s been nobody here for a week,” Harty said. “I think they cleaned it up really well.”

AP 10/11

While the size of the spill isn’t known, the Coast Guard on Thursday slightly revised the parameters of the estimates to at least about 25,000 gallons (95,000 liters) and no more than 132,000 gallons (500,000 liters).

AP 10/9

Comment: Including a lower estimate that is 80% less than the initial estimate is hardly a slight revision, especially when this lower limit is based on an assessment of pipeline data.

So far the impact on wildlife has been minimal – 10 dead birds and another 25 recovered alive and treated – but environmentalists caution the long-term impacts could be much greater.

AP 10/9

Comment: One gets the sense that some anti-production activists are disappointed that the spill is not the environmental disaster needed to end oil and gas production in U.S. offshore waters, that the pipeline operator is (at most) only partially responsible, and that the primary regulators have been doing their job despite outdated regulations and jurisdictional uncertainty.

So far, two proposed class-action lawsuits have been filed on behalf of a disc jockey who runs beachfront events in Huntington Beach and a surf school that operates in the city known as “Surf City USA.”

ABC News

No comment 😃

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