California offshore oil and gas operator fined for OCS Lands Act violation

The US Minerals Management Service fined a California offshore oil and gas operator $450,000 on Oct. 7 for violating the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act following a multi-year investigation.

Pacific Operators Offshore LLC pleaded guilty and will also serve five years of probation for using a gas lift line in direct contradiction to an MMS order, the US Department of the Interior agency said.

The agency said that it notified the Carpenteria, Calif. company, which operates two platforms off the state's coast, that the gas lift line was not fit for service in 2000 and that its continued use posed a significant workforce safety risk. MMS also said that it notified Pacific Operators Offshore that if it intended to use the gas lift line in the future, it would need to submit a repair plan for MMS's approval.

In 2002, according to MMS, its inspectors determined that Pacific Operators Offshore was still using the gas lift line, and the agency referred the matter to the DOI Inspector General's office for criminal investigation. It added that the US Department of Justice also participated in the inquiry.

Contact Nick Snow at nicks@pennwell.com

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