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ExxonMobil Applies for Emergency Oil Trucking Permit to Empty Gaviota-Area Storage Tanks

Officials at ExxonMobil have submitted an emergency application to Santa Barbara County asking to truck oil from the storage tanks at their Gaviota-area Las Flores Canyon facility, which has largely been dormant since the Refugio Oil Spill last year.

The May 19 oil spill was caused when a Plains All American Pipeline ruptured, sending up to 141,000 gallons of crude oil onto the coastline and into the ocean. 

The ruptured Line 901 was found to be badly corroded, and authorities ordered Plains to also shut down Line 903, which carries processed crude oil north through Santa Barbara County to refineries in other areas.

Several companies used the impacted pipelines to move crude oil from offshore oil platforms to processing and refining facilities, including ExxonMobil.

Noozhawk reported last October that ExxonMobil was reportedly moving more than 200 employees from its Santa Ynez Unit to other company operations across the country and overseas.

Now, the company is asking for a temporary permit so oil can be trucked from the Santa Ynez facility’s tanks for safety reasons, in an application submitted to the county Jan. 4.

"We expect to make a decision following the January 20 deadline for submitting public comments," said Errin Briggs, Energy Specialist for the County of Santa Barbara.

Planner Dianne Black will be the decision-maker, and the request does not require an actions by the Board of Supervisors.

Santa Barbara County energy staff denied a similar oil trucking permit last June when ExxonMobil asked to truck oil so it could continue offshore oil platform production. ExxonMobil stopped production within two weeks of that denial.

In the current application, the company has stated the request is a one-time thing, and that once the tanks at Las Flores Canyon are emptied, trucking activity would cease.

Click here to read the application.

The company is seeking to “de-inventory” crude oil already in the storage tanks at the Santa Ynez Unit located in Las Flores Canyon, about 12 miles away from Goleta.

The company’s application states that there are about 425,000 barrels of oil in the storage tanks currently, which would be trucked from the site over a three-to-six-month period.

ExxonMobil also wants to install some additional piping that would allow two trucks at a time to be loaded.

According to the proposal, no more than 30 trucks per day would be allowed to leave from Las Flores Canyon to two of the company’s offsite locations: the Phillips 66 Santa Maria Pump Station located at 580 East Battles Rd. in Santa Maria and the Plains All American Pipeline Pentland Station, located at 2311 Basic School Rd. in Maricopa.

Each truck would be able to transport 150 barrels of oil, and the truck loading and transportation would occur 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

“Trucking operations are expected to be completed within a 3-4 month period but could extend to six months depending on a number of operational issues,” the application states.

“The lack of a pipeline to quickly empty the Las Flores Canyon Crude Storage Tanks during a natural disaster or unforeseen circumstance, could potentially result in the loss or damage to property, the environment, or essential public services. This risk would be eliminated by the preventative removal of inventory, which could take place within a relatively short time (~3-6 months). This is in comparison to indications of a much longer timeframe that the county has provided.”

Noozhawk staff writer Lara Cooper can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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