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Noozhawk Asks: Information + Inspiration for Santa Barbara County

Noozhawk Asks: What’s Planned for 2 Seep Tents Underwater near Platform Holly?

Welcome to Noozhawk Asks, a feature in which you ask the questions, you help decide what Noozhawk investigates, and you work with us to find the answers.

There are two seep tents underwater near Platform Holly. If these were operated by Venoco, what will happen to them? Will seeps increase? 

— Tony Troutman, former Carpinteria resident

In 1982, Mobil and ARCO placed two seep-containment devices side by side in about 220 feet of water just east of Platform Holly, according to the UC Santa Barbara Hydrocarbon Seep Project website.

The two steel tents, measuring 100 feet by 100 feet each, were designed to capture emissions from various hydrocarbon seeps on the sea floor.  

“Captured gas is sent ashore through a sea floor pipeline for commercial sale, and oil is periodically removed at the tents,”according to UCSB. 

The two seep tents have not been in service in recent years because of reduced seep activity and some degradation, according to California State Lands Commission spokeswoman Sheri Pemberton.

Venoco has declared bankruptcy, stopped operations at Platform Holly offshore of Goleta, and quitclaimed its South Ellwood Field leases back to the state. 

The seep tents will be addressed as part of the decommissioning plan and environmental impact report, Pemberton said.

“Empiric evidence suggests that seep activity will continue to increase in the immediate area because production ceased,” Pemberton said.

The seep containment devices have captured an estimated 7,600 million cubic feet of natural gas over their lifetime, according to South Ellwood Field environmental review documents from the California State Lands Commission. 

Former Carpinteria resident Tony Troutman, who now lives in Spring, Texas, was curious about the future of the seep tents since Platform Holly is being decommissioned. 

“I lived and worked in Carpinteria for many years,” Troutman wrote in an email. “Less than 10 years ago, I was out near there (the seep tents) in a boat and the area was covered with oil and gas was making the ocean look like it was boiling.”

Venoco sponsored boat rides, so-called seep tours, for more than 10 years that showed the natural oil and gas seeps in the Santa Barbara Channel.    

Noozhawk staff writer Brooke Holland 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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Noozhawk Asks: What’s Your Question?

Welcome to Noozhawk Asks, a new feature in which you ask the questions, you help decide what Noozhawk investigates, and you work with us to find the answers.

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