Venoco’s Status and the Future of Drilling Off Our Coast

On Monday, April 17, Venoco announced it had filed for bankruptcy and quitclaimed its interests in Platform Holly and the Ellwood Piers leases to the California State Lands Commission (CSLC).  This is significant news as it effectively ends commercial oil and gas production off our coast.   But the timing of when this will occur is still very much unknown.

The State Lands Commission will oversee the decommissioning of Platform Holly and Ellwood Piers.  The process for decommissioning the facilities and abandoning the approximately 32 wells will be expensive, complex and lengthy. The CSLC is filing a claim against Venoco in bankruptcy court in an attempt to recoup costs for the decommissioning process.

In the interim, Venoco will continue to operate the Ellwood Onshore Oil and Gas Processing Facility (EOF), Platform Holly and the Ellwood Piers (also referred to as the 421 Piers / Wells). These oil production facilities Venoco operates are currently idle due to the Plains All American Pipeline break but must be maintained because the wells are under pressure.  However, the EOF is still collecting gas from the seep tents and processing it at the EOF.

The City of Goleta has regulatory authority over the EOF, 421 Piers and related onshore facilities, Line 96, and the Sales Gas Pipeline.     

The City is actively engaged with State and local agencies as short-term facility operations and maintenance and long-term decommissioning and bankruptcy processes are underway The City is gathering information on how the quitclaiming process and decommissioning of the other assets will affect the disposition of the EOF and other onshore facilities. The City’s objective is to restore the Ellwood Onshore Facility to an active recreation use, consistent with the General Plan land use designation.

Mayor Paula Perotte said, “The quitclaim is a positive development for the Goleta community and all of us who look forward to the restoration of our coastline.  The City’s paramount concern has been, and will continue to be, the public health and safety of our community and our residents.  Our city council and staff look forward to working with California’s State Lands Commission and other agencies on the decommissioning of these facilities. We will keep the public fully informed as more details become available.”

The CSLC has set up a webpage to provide information to the public

The City is planning a community conversation as more information is available, so our public can be involved in the process.  To receive updates, please sign up for the Oil & Gas Projects email/text notifications here: