Despite preparedness, it could take hours for California pipeline operators to stop the leak

Texas News Today

FILE PHOTO: Workers scrape crude oil after more than 3,000 barrels (126,000 gallons) of crude oil breaks down in the Pacific Ocean in Newport Beach, California, United States, on October 7, 2021. Picture taken by drone. Reuters / David Swanson / FILE PHOTO

8 October 2021

Jessica Resnick-Alt and Nicola Groom

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – The company operating an estimated 3,000-barrel oil spill pipeline from California has an 800-page manual on dealing with the oil spill, but did employees follow these steps? I do not know.

Houston-based Amplify Energy Corp and several state and federal regulators have officially reported a pipeline spill that polluted beaches, killed wildlife, and shut down fishing for miles along the coastline. provided a different description of what happened on October 2.

The US Pipeline and Dangerous Goods Safety Control Agency (PHMSA) is controlled by Beta Offshore, a subsidiary of Amplify, which operates the pipeline at approximately 2:30 a.m. Pacific time (5:30 a.m. EST) in October. He said he had received a low pressure warning in the room. 2, Line break signal.

The leak detection alarm should trigger a prompt call to managers, boat crews, regulators and the U.S. Coast Guard and a prompt move to shut down the pipeline and the platform supplying it. A copy of the company’s spill response plan, reviewed by contractors and Reuters, according to 10 former and current Beta Offshore employees.

However, according to the PHMSA timeline, the San Pedro Bay Pipeline was not closed until 6 a.m. Pacific Standard Time, after approximately three and a half hours.

Amplify CEO Martin Wilser said the company was unaware of the spill until morning.

“I didn’t notice the leak until 8:09 am (Pacific) on Saturday,” he told a news conference on Wednesday. He said the line was cut around 6 a.m., but didn’t explain “why or how long the oil wasn’t pumped at 8:09 a.m. when the oil was actually found in the water.” added.

In response to a reporter’s question about the alarm at 2:30 on Wednesday, Wilshere said he “didn’t recognize the alarm at 2:30.”

He also said that the company is examining the timeline and “working with regulators to see if there is anything worth noting.”

Amplify did not respond to a request for comment on this statement. The company also declined to respond to several other comment requests.

Tom Haug, a third-party contractor listed as an incident commander in the response plan, posed the question to an official spokesperson for Amplify.

A 16-inch diameter, 17-mile-long pipeline extends from Amplify’s Ely oil production platform to Long Beach offshore, where oil is stored and transported for refining.

The spills are negligible compared to other spills, which have led to regulatory changes, such as the 2010 Deepwater Horizon rig explosion in the Gulf of Mexico, releasing more than 5 million barrels of oil into the water. ..

Still, questions arise about the effectiveness of government-mandated spill response schemes. It aims to help businesses respond quickly and reduce pollution and public hazards.

The cause of the California spill is being investigated. Officials are probing whether the ship was broken due to a hit from its anchor. Investigators found that part of the pipeline had moved 105 feet and that a 13-inch split ran parallel to the pipe.

According to the US National Response Center, the designated contact point for environmental accidents, residents and nearby ships first noticed a foul odor and surface glow on Friday evening. The US Coast Guard says this type of report is common, but does not necessarily indicate an outbreak.

“Generally—don’t delay—to spill. Plan ahead. Over-react and fall. Don’t lag behind the curve,” said Amplify’s response plan. 15-Step Action Plan to Respond to the Spill It is mentioned while developing.

under pressure

Amplify produced 3,600 barrels per day on its California platform in the second quarter of this year, making it the second largest offshore producer in California.

In 1994, federal regulators mandated that operators be trained to shut down pipelines and platforms in the event of a leak or rupture. A former employee of Amplify says that the company has given such training in the last two years.

Amplify did not confirm whether these efforts would continue during the COVID-19 pandemic. However, according to records from the California Spill Prevention and Response Agency, the beta version was trained virtually using the Microsoft Teams platform last year. The second was scheduled for the next month.

Two former employees said software designed specifically for the platform monitors the pressure conditions of the pumps along the pipeline.

Sensor alley platforms on the pipeline notify the operator when the pressure changes and trigger an immediate shutdown to prevent an influx of crude oil into the pipeline.

“The pipeline should have been shut down after a barrel was detected,” said a former employee familiar with the line’s operation.

Wilser said this week that Amplify employees are monitoring the pipeline on a boat each week. The company reviews the chemistry of the oil to make sure iron levels are not high. This indicates a pipe malfunction, said another former employee familiar with the process.

A third former employee recalled that inspectors from the US Safety and Environment Enforcement (BSEE) frequently visited the platform to verify pipeline connections. One employee said the inspection was rigorous and lasted several weeks, with citations of small items such as railing rust.

According to a summary of the October 2019 inspector report submitted to BSEE in April 2020, inspection reports from two years ago show that the pipeline is in good shape and previous inspections have revealed metal walls. It was decided that the abnormality was corrected.

(Reporting by Jessica Resnick-Alt and Nicola Groom, Edited by Rich Waldmanis, David Geffen, Gerry Doyle)

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