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ExxonMobil Stops Offshore Oil, Gas Production in Southern Santa Barbara County

ExxonMobil shut down its three offshore platforms in southern Santa Barbara County this week after the county denied an emergency permit to truck crude oil from its processing facility.

The Las Flores Canyon processing facility, about 12 miles west of Santa Barbara, produces crude oil that is transported by the Plains All American Pipeline that ruptured May 19, causing a large oil spill along the Gaviota Coast.

The adjacent Pacific Offshore Pipeline Company natural gas treatment facility, operated by ExxonMobil, currently trucks natural gas liquids away. Both facilities process materials from Platform Hondo, Platform Harmony and Platform Heritage.

“Due to the county’s refusal to approve our emergency application for a permit to transport crude oil by truck from our Las Flores Canyon facility, we have temporarily ceased production at our three offshore platforms,” said Richard Keil, a spokesman for ExxonMobil. “We do not expect any impact on our local employees, and we are examining a range of options before us in considering our next steps.”

Assistant county planning director Dianne Black said no additional permit applications have been submitted, though there have been inquiries.

With a non-emergency permit for trucking oil, companies would go through a full discretionary permit process, including environmental review, Black said.

While the other companies using the shut-down Plains pipelines stopped production —​ FreePort-McMoRan and Venoco Inc. — ExxonMobil continued producing oil and natural gas from its offshore production wells, but cut back so it would fit in the on-site storage tanks at Las Flores Canyon. It applied for the emergency permit to start trucking crude oil from its facility and was denied.

FreePort McMoRan is expected to submit an application to the county for trucking and Venoco, which has its Ellwood Onshore Facility in Goleta, would have to go through the city for approval if it pursued trucking, according to county staff.

Noozhawk news editor Giana Magnoli 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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