Pipeline leak causes oil spill off the coast of California

Oct. 4, 2021
Amplify Energy says that pipeline has been shut, divers investigating.

Offshore staff

HUNTINGTON BEACH, Calif. – An oil spill off the coast of Southern California has forced Huntington Beach and activities scheduled to take place in the region to shut down.

A leak from an offshore oil production facility emitted 3,000 barrels of oil, which is about 126,000 gallons, on Saturday, Huntington Beach Mayor Kim Carr has said. The leak was subsequently tracked down to a pipeline breach that occurred about five miles off the coast of Huntington Beach, Orange County Supervisor Katrina Foley said.

The US Coast Guard was notified of the spill around 9 am Saturday, Carr said. By early Sunday morning, the oil had reached the shore. It had entered the Talbert Marshlands and the Santa Ana River Trail, fanning out over an area of about 5.8 nautical miles, the city of Huntington Beach announced in a press release Sunday morning.

The size of the spill “demanded prompt and aggressive action,” officials said, but the pipeline has been capped and is no longer leaking into the ocean. Skimming equipment and booms have been deployed to prevent the oil from flowing into the Bolsa Chica Ecological Reserve and Huntington Beach Wetlands, according to the city.

The Coast Guard has recovered 3,150 gallons of oil from the water as of Sunday night, and 5,360 feet of boom have been deployed, they said in a statement.

The shoreside response was conducted by 105 government agency personnel. Fourteen boats conducted oil recovery operations while three Coast Guard boats enforced a safety zone off 1,000 yards around the oil spill boats. Also, four aircrafts were dispatched for overflight assessments.

The pipeline is owned by the Houston-based oil and gas company Amplify Energy, its president and CEO Martyn Willsher said at a news conference Sunday afternoon. He said that the pipeline had been shut off and remaining oil suctioned out. He said divers were still trying to determine where and why the spill occurred. “We are fully committed to being out here until this incident is fully concluded,” Willsher said, adding that the company is working with numerous local, state and federal agencies on recovery efforts.

Willsher said his company notified the Coast Guard Saturday morning when employees were conducting a line inspection and they noticed a sheen in the water. Willsher also told reporters that the facilities operating the pipeline were built in the late 1970s and early 1980s. Amplify has owned the pipeline for about nine years, he said.