Little Bits of History

May 19

Posted in History by patriciahysell on May 19, 2017

2015: At 11.30 AM, Line 901 is shut down. Plaines All American Pipeline, headquartered in Houston, Texas, is a Master limited partnership in the oil transportation, marketing, and storage business. Near Santa Barbara, California, offshore oil and gas production is big business. The offshore platforms produce oil and natural gas and the products are piped onshore for processing. Line 901 was 10.6 miles long and the 24-inch pipe was laid in 1987. The pipe carried 2 million gallons of crude oil a day with temperatures reaching as high as ⁰F 120. To help the oil flow, it was blended with natural gas liquids. The pipelines were installed because it was thought to be a safer option over the previously used truck transport system.

Inspections of the pipe prior to this event showed extensive corrosion and thinning of the pipeline walls. There was no automatic shut off valve on the line since it was not an intrastate line. The last comprehensive inspection took place in July 2012. Plaines claimed installing a shut off valve would create potential dangers. Three Exxon Mobil offshore platforms transport oil to onshore tanks for processing via the Line 901 pipeline. It arrives at Las Flores Canyon and a pump station then sends the crude via Line 903 (also reported to be sub-optimal) for 128 miles to a gathering facility before moving it on to refineries throughout Southern California.

Gaviota coast, the narrow coastal terrace where the spill took place, is used for recreation and cattle grazing. Oil processing facilities are kept to a minimum as the land is protected by the Williamson Act. The nearest city is Goleta and about 11 miles south. Gaviota is unique for the biodiversity of ocean life due to a mix of cold northern waters and warm southern ones. The annual migration of Gray whales was in progress on this day as about 19,000 of the beasts swam through the Santa Barbara Channel. At 11.30 on this day, pipeline operators in Midland, Texas noticed pressure anomalies and shut down Line 901. By 11.40 the Santa Barbara County Fire Department were on scene after reports of a strange smell. They found crude oil flowing from a drainage culvert out into the Pacific Ocean.

Due to cascading effects of problems and inefficiencies, a total of 142,800 gallons of crude oil were spilled into this unique environment. The pipeline remains indefinitely closed. The financial impacts to the county have been estimated as high as $74 million should the pipeline remain out of service for three years. The cost of the clean up was about $96 million with overall expenses including legal claims and settlements estimated at $257 million. Hundreds of coastal animals were found coated in crude oil and many of them died. The state parks and beaches were temporarily closed. Because of the biodiversity of the area, it has long been studied by environmentalists who continue to monitor the region to determine the long range effects of this spill.

If you ask the fish whether they’d rather have an oil spill or a season of fishing, I wouldn’t be surprised if they’d vote for another blowout. – Carl Safina

We pull out of the ground death, we burn death in our power plants, and then we act shocked when we get death in the form of oil spills and global warming. – Van Jones

Have you been following the big oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico? Or as we call it now, the Dead Sea. – David Letterman

This is an opportunity for the port and all of us to make a bold statement about how oil companies contribute to climate change, oil spills and other environmental disasters. – Ed Murray


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: