CARPINTERIA, Calif. - Venoco's oil and gas facilities in Carpinteria will soon be part of the company's past and that has opened up many talks about what to do with the ocean front land.
The company has filed for bankruptcy, in part because of huge financial losses after the Plains All-American pipeline break in 2015. That shut down Platform Holly, the Ellwood processing plant, and sent the company downward financially. The bankruptcy was formally filed in April of this year, under Chapter 11 of the Bankruptcy Code in the United States Bankruptcy Court for the District of Delaware. Venoco says the next court date involving the sale is Dec. 4.
In Carpinteria, Venoco LLC owns the facility on dump road, the pier, pipelines and operated Platforms Gail and Grace.
Venoco also once had a fully staffed office building in Carpinteria. It was a very generous company to local causes including children's programs, festivals, and education.
Now the company is working on a plan to revert its Carpinteria properties to Chevron, the prior owner until 1999. Chevron would then develop the decommission plan and site cleanup.
Venoco plans to relinquish the federal offshore leases by Dec. 31, 2017. They would go to two Department of the Interior agencies, the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE) and Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM). They oversee offshore oil production and safety and have routinely been involved in the operations and inspections throughout the ownership of Venoco and prior companies involved in the leases.
No other oil and gas processing will take place according to information provided to city leaders including Mayor Fred Shaw.
"This acreage is completely in the coastal zone," said Shaw at a recent Chamber of Commerce breakfast. The future would have to follow the guidelines in the California Coastal Act.
For now, no other company has come forward to acquire the multiple sites. For Chevron is will be a multi-million dollar process to decommission the site on a timeline that is still to be determined.
If the land becomes available, Shaw says the California Coastal Commission favors services that are visitor-serving. "Campgrounds and hotels, coastal dependent industry like oil and gas or agriculture," he said. "The Coastal Commission is always looking at new public access points and possible parks or coastal trails." There is also a developing coastal trail in the area that is expected to connect the Rincon to downtown Carpinteria with a path through the existing Venoco property.
Up the coast, Venoco is also working on the decommissioning of Platform Holly off Isla Vista and the Ellwood processing plant that hasn't been in use for more than a year. That is an issue the City of Goleta, and State Lands Commission are also dealing with.