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FMO&G Tranquillon Ridge and Pt. Pedernales

[Information up to date as of 02/01/2018]

What's New

Tranquillon Ridge

State Lands Commission Action: The State Lands Commission (SLC) took final action on the Tranquillon Ridge project lease request on January 29, 2009 at a hearing in Santa Barbara.  After hearing a recommendation of denial by SLC staff, the three member Commission voted two to one to deny the lease request, with Thomas Sheehy of the Governor’s Department of Finance casting the vote in favor of approving the request.  Commissioner Sheehy highlighted the proposed significant economic benefits to the State and applauded the efforts of PXP and the environmental community in finding common ground to bring this request before the Commission.  Commissioners Chiang and Garamendi cast the majority votes denying the lease request, finding that the request by PXP was not in the best interest of the State of California.  The central issue of their denial was that approving the lease request would send a message that additional drilling is possible off the California coast.  More details regarding this decision are available at   Because of the lease denial, the hearing tentatively scheduled before the California Coastal Commission for March 2009 was cancelled. 

The staff reports for the County’s action are available here as follows:

September 24, 2008 staff memo to the Board
ExxonMobil/Sunset Appeal Board Letter
Vaquero Energy Appeal Board Letter - APPEAL WITHDRAWN
Bell Appeal Board Letter
A Attachments Cover Page
                Attachment A.1   4-21-08 Planning Commission Action Letter
                Attachment A.2   4-15-08 Planning Commission Staff Report 
                Attachment A.3   April 2008 Final EIR
                Attachment A.4   4-21-08 Planning Commission Hearing Transcript
                Attachment A.5   Staff Slides at 4-21-08 Planning Commission Hearing
                Attachment A.6   PXP Slides at 4-21-08 Planning Commission Hearing
                Attachment A.7   ExxonMobil Slides at 4-21-08 Planning Commission Hearing
                Attachment A.8   4-14-08 PXP Letter to P&D
                Attachment A.9   4-18-08 PXP Letter to P&D
                Attachment A.10  Excerpts from ExxonMobil/Sunset Vahevala Project Application
                Attachment A.11  Recommended Clarifications to Final EIR
                Attachment A.12  Recommended Findings for Approval of the Tranquillon Ridge Project
                Attachment A.13  Recommended Conditions of Approval for the Tranquillon Ridge Project


Planning Commission Action: The County Planning Commission voted 4-0-1 (one abstention) to certify the 2008 Final Environmental Impact Report and adopt findings and conditions of approval. The staff report to the County Planning Commission is available here and an errata for the staff report and Final EIR, which was incorporated into the Planning Commission’s approval, is available here. The staff presentation at the hearing may be viewed here and a video of the Commission’s hearing is posted at, under “April 21, 2008 Planning Commission”.


The Final Environmental Impact (Final EIR) for the Tranquillon Ridge project was released on March 27, 2008. The Final EIR includes written comments, comments made at the December 2006 public hearing on the Draft EIR, and responses to these comments in Section 9.0 of the document. The Final EIR also includes revisions to the EIR text. Hard copies and CDs of the Final EIR are available at the Energy Division; please contact Nancy Minick at (805) 568-2506 if you would like to receive a copy.

The Draft Environmental Impact Report for PXP’s Tranquillon Ridge Project was prepared by Santa Barbara County, as CEQA Lead Agency. The Draft EIR was circulated for public review from October 30, 2006 through January 16, 2007. A public workshop was held on November 15, 2006 and a public comment hearing was held on December 11, 2006 to receive comments on the adequacy of the document.

Pursuant to a Lease Line Well Agreement between the MMS and the California State Lands Commission executed in 1997, Torch (project operator at the time) drilled a well from Platform Irene that had a bottomhole location in the State Tidelands. The well resulted in the discovery of a potentially rich hydrocarbon zone that increased in size into the State Tidelands. This discovery resulted in a subsequent Well Royalty Sharing Agreement between the MMS and the State Lands Commission. Currently, the oil and gas produced from the Tidelands well is combined with the production from the wells in federal waters and is transported to the LOGP for processing.

The operator determined that several additional wells could be drilled with bottomhole locations near the seaward boundary of the State of California. These wells could drain significant quantities of oil and gas from lands owned by the State, substantially in excess of that currently being drained. PXP proposes that this method of producing the State Tidelands oil and gas is inefficient, would require a longer period to produce, and would not allow the full development of the Tranquillon Ridge field and so applied to the State Lands Commission to create a new State Tidelands lease that extends shoreward from OCS P-0441.

PXP Pipeline Excavation, Inspection and Possible Repairs

PXP has completed a confirmation dig on the 20-inch oil pipeline at one site within Vandenberg Air Force Base.  PXP measured the wall thickness of the pipeline and found it to be within safe limits.  As a precautionary measure, PXP encased the pipeline at the inspection site in a 10-foot long encirclement sleeve welded onto the pipe.  The site was backfilled, recontoured and seeded for erosion control.  The County’s EQAP monitor observed the confirmation dig and site restoration.  PXP had planned to conduct two other confirmation digs on the oil pipeline based on the 2008 internal pipeline survey results.  These digs are on hold until PXP conducts the 2009 survey.  If the 2009 survey results indicate the confirmation digs are warranted, PXP will pursue them at that time.  The 2009 survey is expected to be completed this summer.   These two digs will require authorization from VAFB and a permit from the Coastal Commission.

Permit Compliance

The System Safety and Reliability Review Committee (SSRRC) conducted a safety audit at PXP Lompoc Oil and Gas Processing facility on August 11 and 12, 2009. No priority 1 or 2 deficiencies were identified.  Eighteen of 41 items have been completed. Efforts to implement the remaining 23 are ongoing according to priority timelines established by the SSRRC.

Lompoc Oil and Gas Facility


An ongoing oil and gas production and processing project consisting of an offshore platform (Irene) that produces oil and gas from the Point Pedernales field. Pipelines are used to transport oil and gas produced offshore to onshore processing facilities.


Point Pedernales is the only existing developed and active field in the Outer Continental Shelf waters between Point Arguello and the Santa Barbara-San Luis Obispo County line. The Lompoc Oil and Gas Processing Facility, located approximately five miles northeast of the City of Lompoc, receives wet oil and gas from Platform Irene in the Point Arguello field.


Overhead View of the Lompoc Oil & Gas Processing Facility

Offshore Facilities

Platform Irene

  • Lease Location: OCS-P 0441 (Point Pedernales Unit)
  • Year Installed: 1985
  • Water Depth: 242 feet
  • Deck Weight: 2,500 tons
  • Total Weight: 7,652 tons
  • Fabricated: Japan
  • Number of Wells Slots: 72
  • Distance from Land: 4.7 miles


  • 20-inch diameter wet oil from Platform Irene to Lompoc Oil & Gas Processing Facility (22.2 miles long - 10.1 offshore, 12.1 onshore)
  • 8-inch diameter sour gas from Platform Irene to Lompoc Oil & Gas Processing Facility (22.2 miles long - 10.1 offshore, 12.1 onshore)
  • 8-inch diameter produced water from Platform Irene to Lompoc Oil &Gas Processing (22.2 miles long - 10.1 offshore, 12.1 onshore) - not in use.

Photo provided by the Minerals Management Service

Onshore Facilities

Lompoc Oil & Gas Processing Facility

  • Site is located on 22.5 developed acres

  • Major Systems
    • Oil-water separation
    • Treatment and discharge of produced water
    • Treatment of raw gas

  • Design Capacities
    • Dry oil output - 80,000 barrels per day (bpd) (wet oil)
    • Oil Storage - 100,000 barrels (bbl)
    • Produced water - 57,000 barrels of water per day (bwpd)
    • Natural Gas - 15 thousand cubic feet per day (MSCFD)

  • Permitted Capacities
    • Dry oil output - 36,000 (bpd)
    • Oil Storage - 25,000 (bbl)
    • Produced water - 57,000 (bwpd)
    • Natural Gas - 15 (MSCFD)

  • Offsite Pipelines
    • 20-inch diameter wet oil from Platform Irene to Lompoc Oil & Gas Processing Facility (22.2 miles long - 10.1 offshore, 12.1 onshore)
    • 8-inch diameter sour gas from Platform Irene to Lompoc Oil & Gas Processing Facility (22.2 miles long - 10.1 offshore, 12.1 onshore)
    • 8-inch diameter produced water from Lompoc Oil &Gas Processing Facility to Platform (22.2 miles long - 10.1 offshore, 12.1 onshore) - not in use.
    • 12-inch diameter processed gas from Lompoc Oil & Gas Processing Facility to Southern California Gas Company station (7.5 miles long)

Fields/Production History

Point Pedernales Field

  • Production Began: 1987

  • Oil Information:
    • Source: Monterey Formation
    • Gravity: 16° API
    • Cumulative production through 2000: 64 million barrels (MMBL)
    • Percentage of total Pacific Outer Continental Shelf (POCS) oil/condensate landed in Santa Barbara County: 12%
    • Estimated reserves as of 2000: 13 MMBL

  • Gas Information:
    • Source: Monterey Formation
    • Cumulative production through 2000: 19 billion cubic feet (BCF)
    • Percentage of total POCS gas landed in Santa Barbara County: 3%
    • Estimated reserves as of 2000: 6 BCF

Tranquillon Ridge Field

  • Production Began: 1997

  • Oil Information:
    • Source: Monterey Formation
    • Gravity: 16° API (assumed to be similar to Pt. Pedernales field)
    • Cumulative production through 2000: 200 thousand barrels (MBBL)
    • Percentage of total Pacific Outer Continental Shelf (POCS) oil/condensate landed in Santa Barbara County: <1%
    • Estimated reserves as of 2000: 225* MMBL

  • Gas Information:
    • Source: Monterey Formation
    • Cumulative production through 2000: 20 million cubic feet (MMCF)
    • Percentage of total POCS gas landed in Santa Barbara County: <1%
    • Estimated reserves as of 2000: 50* BCF

* Source: Tranquillon Ridge Environmental Impact Report

Product Distribution

Crude Oil

  • Distributed via pipeline to various locations as follows:
    • Santa Maria Refinery for upgrading; then
    • Northward to the ConocoPhillips Rodeo Refinery in the San Francisco Bay Area

Butane and heavier NGLs

  • Distributed via pipeline (blended into oil) to:
    • Lompoc Oil & Gas Processing Facility

Natural Gas

  • Distributed via pipeline to:
    • Southern California retail market


  • Distributed via truck to:
    • Varies seasonally according to market demand

Past Activities

  • 07/18/03 - Oil Spill Drill
    • Hypothetical scenario: A backhoe doing weed abatement work accidentally strikes a 2-inch valve on the oil pipeline and oil and produced water are spilled. To simulate the resultant spill of crude oil and produced water, a VAFB water truck released 120 barrels of water onto the ground.
    • Location: Near Valve Site #2, approximately one mile east of Wall Beach on VAFB, just north of the Santa Ynez River estuary.
    • Participants: VAFB Fire Department, County Fire Department, Nuevo personnel and contractors, Energy Division.
    • Conclusion: Drill participants concluded that Nuevo personnel responded quickly and that the exercise was well managed. The Unified Command between VAFB Fire, Nuevo Energy and County Fire operated smoothly and effectively. The grade of the roadway along the pipeline confined most the 120-barrel simulated spill to the roadbed itself. A small amount of water depicting the flow of the spill did go into the native vegetation on the wetland side of the road. Nuevo indicated that in an actual spill situation, a berm would be constructed as early as possible, when it was safe to do so, to prevent the release of oil or produced water into natural areas. Participants noted that early incident communication could be improved by having an identified staging area and check-in person.

  • Nuevo Oil Spill Drill: 50 Barrels of Water Released to Simulate Spill Movement

Emulsion Pipeline Operational Information

  • All four tracts in the Point Pedernales Unit were leased in 1981 as part of lease sale 53.
  • Two platforms were originally proposed to develop the unit, Union's Platform Irene, and Exxon's Platform Shamrock.
  • Unocal's directional drilling capability allowed full-field development from a single Platform (Irene) beginning in 1987.
  • Nuevo Energy purchased the project from Unocal and proposes to further develop the field, which extends into State waters, using new advances in directional drilling techniques.
  • Torch Operating Company's crude oil pipeline from Platform Irene to the Lompoc Oil and Gas Processing Facility north of Lompoc was constructed in 1986 by Unocal as part of the original Point Pedernales project.
  • On September 28, 1997 this 20-inch diameter pipeline ruptured, spilling crude oil into the Pacific Ocean approximately 2.5 miles from shore at a depth of 120 feet. The resultant abrupt loss of pressure triggered an automatic shutdown of the pipeline; however, the operator overrode this automatic shutdown. Over the next 36 hours, an estimated range of 163 to more than 1,200 barrels of crude oil spilled into the ocean. Miles of coastline were fouled and hundreds of seabirds were killed.
  • Response to the spill was handled through a "Unified Command" structure which consisted of Torch Operating Company, the U.S. Coast Guard, and the State Department of Fish and Game's Office of Oil Spill Prevention and Response. The Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary also provided early response to the spill by mobilizing its aircraft on the day of the spill and by using its boat on the following day to assess the spill on the water and to pick up oiled birds.
  • In the days following the spill, the ruptured pipeline was wrapped in fiberglass to prevent further leakage.
  • On November 11, 1997, Torch completed its repair of the 20-inch diameter pipeline.
  • On September 14, 1999, Santa Barbara County filed a complaint against Torch Operating Company (and the other Point Pedernales owners) in Superior Court. The complaint addressed Torch's failure to rule out a pipeline leak or rupture prior to overriding safety devices and resuming operations on the night of the offshore oil spill. The People's and County's case asserted that Torch's actions, and certain failures to act, immediately following the rupture of the pipeline, constitute violations of key safety provisions of the County's permit for the project. Subsequently, Torch settled this litigation with the County for $1,000,000, while preserving their intention to seek judicial relief from County authority.
  • On September 14, 2001 ultrasonic and magnetic particle testing of Nuevo's Point Pedernales oil pipeline revealed cracks in three of its offshore flanges. These non-destructive (NDT) pipeline tests were required by the County.
  • The flanges are located just over a mile southwest of the Santa Ynez River mouth.
  • On September 16, 2001, Nuevo shut down Platform Irene and the Point Pedernales pipelines due to the discovery of the flange cracks. The pipeline was pigged and flushed with seawater to remove the residual oil.
  • The first defect was 2.5 inches long and removed by surface grinding. A second crack was reported to be 7.5 inches long with a depth of .25 inch, and the third crack was estimated to be 10.5 inches long with an unknown depth.
  • A crack in a flange weld was determined to be the cause of the failure of Nuevo's offshore oil pipeline in 1997. The flange was determined to be brittle due to its high carbon content and the use of improper welding procedure (failure to pre-heat the metal prior to welding).
  • After the 1997 rupture, the County required annual flange surveys including visual inspections and ultrasonic (thickness and shear wave) and magnetic particle testing.
  • In October of 2001, Nuevo received conditional approval from the Minerals Management Service, State Lands Commission, Coastal Commission, and County to proceed with the repair work. The repairs included replacing one additional flange which does not contain cracks at this time, but which has properties similar to the flange that failed in 1997. A total of 5 flanges were replaced.
  • The repair activities took place both in state and federal waters.
  • In addition to Nuevo's proposed repairs, the County recommended that an additional original flange on the J-tube (Flange 1-4 at tie-in 1-1) should also be replaced due to a number of factors. These factors include the relatively high carbon equivalency of the flange, the absence of information confirming that proper welding procedures were used, absence of information regarding the flange's and the welding's compliance with NACE requirements for hardness, and the recent discovery of cracks on the other flanges.
  • Since Nuevo did not replace this flange, the County now requires semiannual ultrasonic (thickness and shear wave), magnetic particle, and visual inspections over the life of the service of this flange.
  • After completing the repairs and complying with pre-start conditions, Nuevo received approval from the County, Minerals Management Service, State Lands Commission, and Coastal Commission to restart Platform Irene and the pipeline on January 4, 2001. The pre-start conditions included review and approval of smart pig results, hydrotest results; a final report on marine mammal observations; and evidence that debris had been removed from the repair area.
  • A claim by the State and federal trustee agencies for natural resource damage and penalties following the 1997 oil spill was settled in May 2002 for three million dollars.

Tranquillon Ridge Historical Information

May 2003 - Tranquillon Ridge Project Litigation

  • The Court sustained the County’s demurer to Nuevo’s petition and complaint regarding the County’s denial of the Tranquillon Ridge application. The Court ruled that CEQA does not require the County to certify an EIR where the County has elected to deny the project application. The Court also ruled that the claim for rescission of the contract and damages as pled was barred pursuant to the holding in Mission Oaks v. Santa Barbara County and CEQA guidelines section 15270(c). The Court allowed Nuevo to amend its complaint on two issues: 1) the contract claim (whether the County had a contractual duty to certify the EIR) and 2) Nuevo may amend to allege that the County’s findings are not supported by substantial evidence.

October 2002 - Tranquillon Ridge Project Litigation

  • On October 25 Nuevo filed a lawsuit against the County following the Board of Supervisor's final action to deny the Tranquillon Ridge application. Many of the issues previously raised by Nuevo, lead agency determination, CEQA baseline, and failure to certify the EIR within a year, are listed as causes of action in the suit. Nuevo is requesting that the court issue a writ of mandate directing that the county revise and recirculate the FEIR with the proper baseline, assign the State Land Commission as lead agency, or certify the EIR as legally adequate so it can be used by the other agencies.

2002 Tranquillon Ridge Project

  • Nuevo Energy Company and Mission Resource Corporation had requested a revision to the Santa Barbara County Point Pedernales Project Final Development Plan (FDP) to allow development (drilling and production operations) of a proposed California State Lease (Tranquillon Ridge Oil Field).
  • The proposed Tranquillon Ridge Project would have included directionally drilling up to 30 wells from Platform Irene into the State Tidelands, using extended-reach technology. The proposed project was estimated to have a life of 30 years.
  • Reserves are estimated at 170 to 200 million barrels of oil and 40 to 50 billion standard cubic feet of gas.
  • Oil produced from the Tranquillon Ridge Field was proposed to be processed at the LOGP.
  • An Environmental Impact Report (EIR) was released for the Project on February 7, 2002 and the comment period closed on March 25, 2002. The final EIR was released in June 2002.
  • Key issues assessed in the EIR include the impacts of constructing and operating new facilities along the existing Point Pedernales pipelines, the extension of life of the Point Pedernales facilities over what was assumed when the project was originally approved, and the increased throughput of oil over current levels.
  • Two other separate but related projects analyzed in the EIR are the LOGP Produced Water Treatment Plant Upgrade and the Sisquoc Bi-directional Flow Project.
  • The Produced Water Treatment Plant Upgrade was approved to allow produced water to be treated to a level that would allow for ocean discharge at Platform Irene. Currently, produced water is reinjected at the Lompoc Oil Field or at Platform Irene.
  • The Sisquoc Bi-directional flow project was approved to allow for increased operational flexibility. In the event that crude oil production exceeds the capacity of ConocoPhillips's Santa Maria Refinery, under the bi-directional flow project crude oil could be transported to the All American Pipeline for delivery to other refining locations.
  • Two public hearings (February 21, 2002 and March 14, 2002; both from 6:30 to 9:00 p.m.) were held at the Lompoc City Council Chambers to accept public testimony on the adequacy of the EIR.
  • At a Planning Commission hearing on June 20, 2002, the Tranquillon Ridge Project did not receive approval (on a series of 2-2 votes). Nuevo appealed the Planning Commission's action to the Board of Supervisors who heard testimony regarding this project on September 10, 2002. The appeal hearing was continued to September 24 and to October 22, 2002.
  • On September 24, 2002, the Board unanimously upheld the Planning Commission's approvals of Nuevo's LOGP Produced Water Treatment Project and ConocoPhillips's Sisquoc Bi-directional Flow Project.
  • At the October 22, 2002 hearing, the Board of Supervisors denied the Nuevo Energy Company's Tranquillon Ridge project on a 3 to 2 vote.

1997 Torch/Platform Irene Oil Spill Restoration

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