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Gaviota Terminal Abandonment

[Information up to date as of 04/24/2018]

What's New

The Gaviota Terminal Company (GTC) began decommissioning the Gaviota Marine Terminal Site in July of 2017. Plans include demolition and removal of remaining above- and below-grade structures and equipment, remediation of onsite soils impacted with petroleum hydrocarbons, and restoration of the project site to a more natural condition. The project site's natural habitats have been significantly altered due to the long history of industrial development. Project restoration efforts are divided up into two sections: Alcatraz Creek; and, the upland areas. The objectives of the restoration efforts are to increase and improve the native communities on site. Within Alcatraz Creek, the objective is to expand the wetland areas, resulting in 2.2 acres of proposed riparian and wetland plantings. In the upland areas, the objective is to plant approximately 20 acres with native plant species, including coastal sage scrub, grassland and saltgrass species.


Excavation to expose pipeline for removal and compaction work in the Facility Operations Area (photo #1)

Excavation to expose pipeline for removal and compaction work in the Facility Operations Area (photo #2)

Tilling of soil in the southern soil treatment area

Project Chronology

Gaviota Oil Terminal


An onshore crude oil storage facility consisting of six tanks.


The Gaviota Oil Terminal is located on the ocean side of Highway 101 opposite the Gaviota Oil & Gas Processing Facility.

Shell Pipeline Company, LP Location

Overhead View of the Gaviota Oil Terminal

Onshore Facilities

  • Tank Farm
    • Located on approximately 42 acres
    • Six onsite storage tanks
      • 670,500 barrel storage capacity (all six tanks)
      • Fire water storage tank has 80,000 barrel capacity
      • Idled tanks have been purged of all hydrocarbons and are open to the atmosphere
  • Pipelines:
    • 24-inch diameter onshore oil pipeline

Product Distribution

  • Crude Oil (from Arguello, Inc.)
    • Distributed via pipeline to the Gaviota Oil Terminal for product for storage; then pumped to the 24-inch diameter portion of the All American Pipeline

Past Activities

  • The first petroleum-related facilities date back to 1896 when the Alcatraz Asphaltium Company erected an asphalt processing plant and a deep-water wharf. The processed asphalt was then shipped by railroad or marine vessel to local markets.
  • In 1904, the National Oil and Transportation Company acquired the plant and converted it into a 3,000 barrel per day (BPD) crude oil refinery to handle oil from the Santa Maria oil field. Later the refinery was taken over by the Associated Oil Company, who operated the facility until 1920.
  • In 1950, the original Gaviota site facilities were completely dismantled (including the original wharf), and in its place a modern marine terminal was constructed. Dual 12-inch pipelines were installed to a distance of 2,400 feet from shore for the loading of crude oil tankers. Mooring facilities consisted of five 16,500 pound anchors marked with mooring buoys.
  • Until 1969, the offshore marine terminal loaded offshore oil produced in the western Santa Barbara Channel.
  • From 1969 until 1987, the terminal loaded only oil produced from onshore wells and trucked to the site mostly from Kern County.
  • The Gaviota Oil Terminal was constructed in 1987 and began operation in 1991 as an interim marine terminal.
  • Since 1991, the facility served to store oil produced from the Point Arguello field and oil processed at the Gaviota Oil and Gas Facility; however, nearly all oil is now transported to refinery centers via overland pipelines.
  • The facility shipped oil via the marine terminal for less than one year.
  • Texaco suspended loading of marine tankers at the Gaviota Oil Terminal in 1994, and subsequently abandoned the offshore pipeline and marine tanker mooring in 1998.
  • Effective May 1, 2002, Shell Pipeline Company became the successor to Equilon’s interest in the GTC partnership. In December 2002, the County approved Shell Pipeline Company as the new operator.
  • GTC permanently ceased operations and evacuated all oil from the site as of the third quarter of 2005. The operator applied to the County for a Demolition and Reclamation Permit in May of 2006. Meanwhile, the County has initiated a rezone of the site from Coastal-Dependent Industry to recreation.

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