California offshore field redevelopment environmental review begins

The US Bureau of Ocean Energy Management began a 60-day public comment period on preparing a joint environmental evaluation with the California State Lands Commission (CSLC) of a proposal to develop oil and gas resources from three existing state-issued leases from an existing platform in federal waters 3.7 miles offshore Carpenteria, Calif.

BOEM said the revised development and production plan submitted by Pacific Operators Offshore LLC (PACOPS), a subsidiary of independent producer Carone Petroleum Corp., includes state leases under CSLC jurisdiction as well as federal leases administered by BOEM. The US Department of the Interior agency said its authority is limited to evaluating potential environmental impacts of using an existing platform in federal waters, and that CSLC will consider BOEM’s evaluation in reaching a final decision on the proposed project.

Standard Oil Co. of California (now Chevron Corp.) and ARCO discovered the Carpenteria offshore field in state waters near the Southern California coastal community in 1964 and began development from two platforms in 1965, according to information at PACOPS’s web site. It said development moved into adjacent federal waters when Phillips Petroleum Co. began producing from Platform Hogan in 1968 and Platform Houchin in 1969. Production reached 28,450 b/d by August 1969 before declining to 1,800 b/d by the early 1990s, it indicated.

PACOPS said another Carone subsidiary, Signal Hill Services Inc., bought the federal lease in 1990, including a pipeline and onshore processing plant in Ventura County. PACOPS was formed as the operator of record and arrested the natural decline to around 1,500 b/d by drilling more wells and working over existing ones, it said.

It applied to CSLC in September 1999 to develop up to 25 new wells on state leases using extended reach drilling 1,400-12,000 ft eastward and several thousand feet below the seafloor from Platform Hogan in federal waters, CSLC said in an Apr. 27 update this year. Work was suspended on an environmental review at the company’s request in mid-2001, it added.

CSLC said PACOPS submitted a revised application that the state agency deemed complete in September 2009 and the US Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation, and Enforcement, BOEM’s federal predecessor agency, deemed complete this past March.

BOEM and CSLC agreed to jointly prepare an environmental impact report or statement on the proposed development activities to satisfy both the National Environmental Policy Act and the California Environmental Quality Act. If approved, the project will be subject to both federal and state oversight. Written comments will be accepted for both federal and state review until Feb. 19 at BOEM’s Pacific region office in Camarillo, Calif. The state and federal agencies also will hold public hearings on Jan. 19 in the Carpenteria City Council chambers.

Contact Nick Snow at nicks@pennwell.com.

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