Mobil pushes extended reach project off California.
(Mobil Exploration & Producing Services)
Oil and Gas Journal v91, n27 (July 5, 1993):20 (2 pages).
COPYRIGHT PennWell Publishing Company 1993
(reproduced here under `fair use' for teaching purposes)
Mobil Exploration & Producing Inc. has given a tentative green light
to a $1.8 billion project to tap oil reserves off California with extended
reach drilling from shore.
Mobil plans to submit by yearend a detailed application to state and
Santa Barbara County agencies for the Clearview project, proposed earlier
in preliminary form by California's State Lands Commission. It would
involve developing the 155 million bbl Coal Oil Point extension of South
Ellwood field on state leases off Goleta Point with extended reach wells
from upland drillsites.
ARCO was stymied in efforts during the 1980s to develop the field
with offshore platforms, mainly over local objections to the sight of more
platforms on the horizon. After several permit denials and lawsuits, ARCO
dropped the proposal in return for state permission to expand its Long
Beach Unit waterflood project.
Mobil cemented its interest in the proposal by acquiring all of
ARCO's remaining interests in the Santa Barbara Channel earlier this year
(OGJ, June 7, p. 17). The project would end a 6 year moratorium on
drilling in state waters off California as well as confirm feasibility of
long reach extended drilling from shore.
Mobil decided to proceed with the project after conducting community
workshops followed by a public hearing in Santa Barbara last week.
Although the Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors were neutral
towards the project, and some environmental leaders were said to be
"furious," the public response "was about what we expected," said Mike
Brown, a Mobil attorney assigned to the project.
Brown noted intensive environmental review would follow submittal of
the development project, which is certain to face some hostility from the
area's residents as well a number of policy and legal hurdles.
"Mobil believes we can satisfy those concerns," Brown said. He cited
the proposed project's expected environmental and financial benefits,
including early removal of Platform Holly from state waters off Santa
Barbara- thus in theory reducing the risk of offshore oil spills. The
project also would generate about 170 permanent jobs and about $12
million/year in taxes and royalties to the cash strapped state and county
The project faces an uphill battle with Santa Barbara's powerful
environmental community and affected neighborhoods. The proposed sites are
near the University of California-Santa Barbara and is surrounded by
existing and future housing and hotel projects and a world class golf
Accommodating the project would mean changing existing zoning and
county policies establishing only two oil processing sites on the county's
coast plus drilling in state waters that recently were declared a state
marine sanctuary. In addition, the inducement of state and county sharing
royalties would require new state legislation certain to prove
Mobil's preliminary project plans call for:
Mobil noted the general project scope would not change unless gas
processing capacity at the Popco plant is inadequate or the processing fee
is not competitive with other processing options. It believes the only
economic alternative is for oil processing to occur at the drillsites.
Projections showed that processing oil at Las Flores canyon would jump
operating and capital costs sharply and result in a negative return for
- Extended reach drilling of as many as 60 wells from the existing
Ellwood marine terminal site and 20 wells from the existing Ellwood oil
and gas processing plant site.
- Oil processing and oil storage at the marine terminal site, use of
upgraded existing and possible new parallel onshore pipeline links to the
Ellwood processing plant drillsite, a new offshore sweet gas pipeline to
the Ellwood processing plant, and a new offshore sour gas pipeline to an
existing major oil and gas processing plant at Las Flores Canyon.
- Oil processing, sweet gas processing, seep gas processing, and oil
storage at the Ellwood processing plant site.
- Sour gas processing at the Pacific Offshore Pipeline Co. (Popco)
gas processing plant at the Las Flores Canyon complex.
- Transporting Clearview oil output to refinery by onshore pipeline.
Options include a link to the proposed Pacific Pipeline system at the
Ellwood processing plant or connections to the All-American pipeline
system at Las Flores and to the Mobil Rincon line east of Santa Barbara
- Removal of Platform Holly, off-shore components of the Ellwood
marine terminal, removal or abandonment in place of subsea pipelines, and
termination of all marine oil transportation by barge by about 2000.
Mobil also said it would be willing to design structural camouflage
for the drilling rig, as is commonplace elsewhere in southern California.