Venoco Ellwood Onshore Facility

  • Goal: To phase out operations at Venoco’s Ellwood onshore oil and gas processing plant and protect the surrounding natural and recreational resources.
  • Year Started: 1991
  • Clients: Citizens for Goleta Valley, Citizens Planning Association, Get Oil Out!, Sierra Club

In 1966, ARCO installed Platform Holly, located in State waters approximately two miles offshore UCSB and Ellwood Mesa. Oil and gas produced at Holly is transported via pipeline to be processed at the Ellwood Onshore Facility, located between the Sandpiper Golf Course and Bacara Hotel. The oil is then put into a pipeline and transported approximately nine miles up the coast to the Plains Pipeline system and delivered to refineries. Up until 2012, the oil used to be transported out of the County by marine barge, causing significant risks of oil spills and air pollution. However, due to the critical work of EDC and our clients, Venoco finally stopped transporting its oil in this manner, thus ending all marine shipping of oil produced in California.

In 1991, we secured the rezone of the Ellwood Onshore Facility to Recreation, and the facility has since been operating as a nonconforming use. It is inappropriately located near popular recreation areas such as Haskell’s Beach, the Ellwood Mesa and monarch butterfly preserve, Sandpiper Golf Course, and the Bacara Hotel. Over the years, Venoco’s operations have resulted in significant impacts to the community and the environment, and in 1999 the State Lands Commission temporarily shut down Platform Holly following a series of dangerous gas releases. The risk of an oil spill remains an ongoing threat to the Devereux Slough and the University’s Coal Oil Point Ecological Reserve, home to the federally protected snowy plover and other important seabirds.

EDC is currently working with the City of Goleta to help establish an end date for the Ellwood Onshore Facility. Once the Facility is shut down, Venoco will be required to process its oil and gas at the County-approved consolidated oil and gas processing site at Las Flores Canyon, which is located away from populated areas.

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