Driller amplify energy corp. It took more than three hours to stop California’s worst oil spill in nearly three decades, according to a government report.
After a low pressure alarm around 2:30 am on October 1. 2 of its San Pedro Bay pipeline, Amplify’s Beta Offshore unit did not shut down the pipeline until 6:01 am, the US Department of Transportation’s Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration reported. said in a corrective action order on Tuesday.
The company did not return messages seeking comment.
While not all the details are known, “the facts being stated are very concerning to us,” said Bill Caram, executive director of the Pipeline Safety Trust, a group that engages with pipeline operators. Operational reasons can cause a pipeline to lose pressure suddenly, but “we would have expected a pipeline to shut down a line much faster than three hours” and report it faster, too, he said.
The Golden State’s largest oil leak since a 1994 earthquake opened a pipeline and spilled up to 3,000 barrels along the California coast, according to Amplify estimates. Oil drifted south, forcing the closure of popular surfing beaches and polluting wetlands.
Divers found a 13-inch crack in the pipeline that was “the likely source of the oil release,” US Coast Guard spokeswoman Rebecca Ore said at a briefing Tuesday. Approximately 4,000 feet of the pipeline was “laterally displaced by 105 feet.”
Amplify CEO Martyn Willsher told the briefing that the footage showed the pipeline was “pulled like a bowstring.” That kind of displacement “is not common,” he added.
He said his company did not confirm the leak until around 8 a.m. that morning, when an oil sheen was identified in nearby waters.
“Regardless of the cause, we will do everything we can to correct things,” Willsher said.
After shutting down the pipeline, Beta did not report the incident to the National Response Center for another three hours, according to the report. Initial estimates indicated that the pipeline released about 700 barrels, far less than the company’s number.
Beta Offshore was directed to review and assess the effectiveness of its emergency response plan, including “on-scene response and support, coordination, notification, and communication with first responders and public officials,” according to the document. . PHMSA did not specify whether the time it took to shut down the line and notify the National Response Center was too slow or adequate.
An email and call to PHMSA about the appropriateness of the three-hour wait were not immediately returned.
The root cause of the accident remains unconfirmed, but “preliminary reports indicate the failure may have been caused by an anchor snagging the pipe, causing a partial tear,” according to the order. There is no confirmation that a ship is causing the leak.
–With the assistance of Mike Jeffers.
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