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Venoco Oil Production Project to Go Before State Lands Commission

The commission publishes the final environmental documents for the plan, which calls for reactivating wells near Sandpiper Golf Club

The proposed Venoco Inc. oil production project will go before the State Lands Commission later this month.

Last week, the commission published the final environmental documents for the project, which would reactivate the oil and gas production well near the Sandpiper Golf Club.

The well was operating from the 1930s until 1994, when a spill onto the golf course caused a shutdown.

Under the proposed project, the oil and gas would be separated at the Ellwood Onshore Facility and the second pier would be decommissioned and removed.

The well is expected to be productive for 20 years, but output would taper off after two years, according to environmental documents.

Environmental documents found 16 significant and unavoidable impacts if the project is approved, mostly related to the potential for an oil spill.

There’s been a lot of pushback against the project from Goleta-area residents, the Goleta City Council and environmental groups. The coastal wells are near the Devereux Slough and two Marine Protected Areas, and people worry about spills at the wells or along the pipelines.

Goleta gets no say in project approval, but has control over permitting for the Ellwood Onshore Facility.

The city has opposed the project in the past, but the State Lands Commission staff has said Venoco has a vested right to develop its lease, City Attorney Tim Giles has said.

If the state certifies the draft environmental impact report and approves the project, Venoco still must acquire permits from the city and the California Coastal Commission to implement the project development, Giles said.

People have also asked for the oil to be processed at another facility so the wells wouldn’t extend the life of the Ellwood facility. According to the state reports, Platform Holly will be operating for a minimum of 40 years, and these proposed wells would have only a 20-year life, so they shouldn’t impact the life of the processing facility.

When these wells were producing oil and gas before, processing was done on one of the two piers on the beach. If Goleta denies a permit for processing at Ellwood, the report does identify the pier itself as an alternative processing facility.

At the Feb. 21 meeting, the State Lands Commission will decide whether to certify this environmental impact report and approve the Venoco recommissioning project. If it’s approved, the mitigation measures will be adopted as conditions of the project.

The final environmental impact report is available online, and hard copies can be viewed at the Goleta Branch Library at 500 N. Fairview Ave., the Santa Barbara Public Library at 40 E. Anapamu St., Goleta City Hall at 130 Cremona Drive, Suite B, and at the County Administration Building at 123 E. Anapamu St.

Noozhawk staff writer 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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