The city of Goleta, alongside the State Lands Commission, held a virtual town hall on Thursday to provide an update to the community on the status of the decommissioning of Platform Holly and Piers 421.
Jeff Planck, the co-project manager, gave an update on behalf of the SLC, stating that since the last town hall, back in November 2019, 14 wells had their production zone cemented.
However, due to the pandemic, they were forced to shut down operations before they could finish the last three wells.
“We were forced to shut down in mid-March due to the pandemic. Shortly thereafter, and believing that the shutdown wouldn’t extend as long as it has, the small four-man crew continued to maintain the equipment and to do some other work in preparation for the restart, using the drilling rig to complete the advancements of all 30 wells,” Mr. Planck explained.
“However, in June, it was decided to cold stack the rig, meaning all the rental and most of the movable equipment would be removed from the platform and the equipment that stayed would be secured and shrink wrapped or have corrosion inhibitor placed in the vessels, or tanks to prevent degradation in the marine environment.”
The decision to cold stack the rig had multiple factors, including the number of people needed to operate the machinery, while the lack of physical space for social distancing made it difficult. The cost of having to upkeep everything played a factor as well.
“Once the realization that the pandemic requirements could easily last another six to 12 months, the decision was made to do the cold stack and to leave the platform,” Mr. Planck said.
On July 26, the cold stack effort was complete and all personnel left the platform. According to Mr. Planck, “the Commission and their contractor Beacon West energy will continue to staff the platform with a reduced crew to maintain security to monitor the wells and to maintain the equipment left behind.”
All wells have been secured and shut in during this stoppage and there are no fluid wells on the platform.
He added that once decommissioning work starts up again on Platform Holly, which he expects in another few months, it should take another 12 to 18 months to fully abandon all the wells.
Additionally, no operations have occurred at the Ellwood onshore facility, besides the addition of an emergency generator.
There was also an update on the preliminary work being done to decommission the Piers 421 onshore piers. There will be a test for the removal of the soil, which will take place Monday.
“The soil removal test will begin with clearing the overgrown vegetation on the access road to allow for the equipment to be placed in and around Piers 421 number two,” Mr. Planck said.
“The test will use a method developed by the Hydro-X (Water Treatment) company, which uses high-pressure water to loosen and semi-liquefy the soil, which is then removed by a suction hose into a containment vessel.
“Once that vessel is full of fluid and soil, it is transferred to a container, then, to be hauled off site. The method has been proven successful at the Aliso Canyon gas field restoration.”
If successful, this method would be a lot more useful for the companies, as it would not rely on heavy and expensive machinery and would help with the next step which is the environmental review.
A full video of the meeting can be found at www.CityofGoleta.org/GoletaMeetings. To sign up and receive information as the project progresses, go to www.slc.ca.gov, use the E-Lists menu and subscribe to the Platform Holly/South Ellwood update.