Oil Pollution Control EffortsSanta Barbara, California
- T.H. Gaines (Union Oil Co. of California)
- Document ID
- Society of Petroleum Engineers
- Journal of Petroleum Technology
- Publication Date
- December 1970
- Document Type
- Journal Paper
- 1,511 - 1,514
- 1970. Society of Petroleum Engineers
- 4.1.2 Separation and Treating, 2.4.3 Sand/Solids Control, 5.1.2 Faults and Fracture Characterisation, 6.5.5 Oil and Chemical Spills, 1.6 Drilling Operations, 6.5.2 Water use, produced water discharge and disposal
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It is only after the hysteria has died down and the reporters have gone on to bigger and more bellowing headlines that we dare take the story apart piece by piece. Wherever the fault may lie, and whatever the repercussions piece by piece. Wherever the fault may lie, and whatever the repercussions - the frustrations and setbacks hinted at here are the sort that make any responsible man cry out in despair.
The Big Leak
On Jan. 28, 1969, at about 11:00 a.m. during and following normal well drilling operations at Union Oil Co.'s Platform A (Lease 402) in Federal waters off Santa Barbara, Call, an oil leak occurred. Federal and state regulatory agencies were promptly notified and company executives and management personnel were alerted. personnel were alerted. Observations made from a helicopter at 7:30 a.m. Jan. 29 revealed a major, violently agitated area about 800 A east of Platform A. A brownish mixture was erupting from the water surface and spreading in a circle. The shade of the mixture darkened with distance from the source, taking on a more typical appearance of crude petroleum about 3/4 mile from the emission. Several small emissions were observable along a west-to-east line, with one small emission west of the platform. The densest area was about 1/2 mile in diameter and involved the platform structure. An oil slick approximately 25 sq miles in area extended easterly from the platform. Patches of oil were breaking off from the main body in windrows. These patches were tending toward the Santa Barbara, Montecito, Summerland and Carpinteria beaches.
Efforts To Limit Pollution
The first pollution control objective was to disperse with chemicals the smaller off patches headed for the beaches until containment and recovery equipment could be marshalled to attack the main oil suck. Simultaneously, in organization had to be established and manpower mobilized. In this respect, it must be noted that the assigned Union Oil Co. Oil and Gas Division personnel had their hands full, working on stopping the oil source. Needed personnel, especially supervisors, were obtained from other divisions of the company, particularly from the refining department Because of widely circulated reports of damage resulting from the dispersants used by the British in their battle with the oil from the Torrey Canyon wreck, many public water pollution control agencies either object to or forbid the use of such dispersants. So that all misunderstanding could be avoided, a request to use chemical dispersants was submitted, and permission to do so was received at 3:30 p.m. Jan. permission to do so was received at 3:30 p.m. Jan. 29 from Washington, D.C., via the regional office of the Federal Water Pollution Control Administration. Use was to be in accordance with FWPCA guidelines. A work boat whose fire water pump had been adapted for applying chemical solutions was dispatched to Platform A to disperse the oil and gas now presenting a substantial fire hazard to the structure. A small supply of Polycomplex A-11* was on hand and was used this first day. Two crop-dusting airplanes and a supply of Corexit 7664** were hurriedly ordered and ready for use on Jan. 30.
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