Ruptured Plains All American crude oil line causes Pacific spill

Plains All American Pipeline LP’s Coastal Line crude pipeline ruptured May 19 in Santa Barbara, Calif., spilling more than 500 bbl into the Pacific Ocean, according to Governor’s Office of Emergency Services estimates.

Plains All American Pipeline LP’s Coastal Line crude pipeline ruptured May 19 in Santa Barbara, Calif., spilling more than 500 bbl into the Pacific Ocean, according to Governor’s Office of Emergency Services estimates.

The 150,000 b/d, 24-in. OD pipeline carries crude from ExxonMobil Corp.’s Las Flores Canyon crude processing plant to a pump station in Gaviota, Calif. The Las Flores Canyon plant is about 15 miles west of Santa Barbara. The pipeline leaked into a culvert which then transported the oil to the Pacific Ocean, creating a 4-mile slick. PAA shut down the pipeline and sealed the culvert. Officials evacuated Refugio State Beach.

“The spill has impacted ocean water and the shoreline,” PAA said in a statement. “[PAA] deeply regrets this release has occurred and is making every effort to limit its environmental impact.” The company deployed a 1,500-ft boom May 19 to help contain the oil and began skimming operations.

Las Flores Canyon removes water from crude produced offshore at Hondo, Pescado, and Sacate fields. Pipelines move the crude from the Hondo, Harmony, and Heritage platforms, in 842-1,200 ft of water, to Las Flores. Hondo started operations in 1981, with Harmony and Heritage following in 1993.

A 20-in. OD wet oil line and 12-in. OD natural gas line extend 7 miles from Heritage to Harmony, with a 20-in. OD line connecting Harmony to Las Flores Canyon, 10 miles away, and a 12-in. OD line returning produced water to the platform. Gas is moved from Harmony to Hondo (3 miles) and then piped via 12-in. line to Las Flores. Hondo sends its produced crude to Harmony.

Las Flores can produce 100,000 b/d of dry crude. It has 540,000 bbl of storage, with additional storage available at Gaviota.

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