Oral History of the 1969 SB Spill

To some, the impact of the 1969 Santa Barbara Oil Spill was environmental.  To be sure there was ecological harm all around (see any of my old lectures if you are curious about that).  But the bigger impacts were upon the burgeoning Environmental Movement, igniting of a generation of environmental activism, birthing a new paradigm/cultural… Read more »

Venoco Bankrupt

Wow!  Our venerable, longtime offshore and coastal oil and gas producer here in Ventura and Santa Barbara–Venoco–has shuttered operations and is entering bankruptcy.  On Monday (April 17, 2017), Venoco filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy with the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the District of Delaware. This was their second filing within the past year for Bankruptcy protection, but all… Read more »

BP’s Alaskan Well Blowout

British Petroleum’s (BP) oil and gas well on Alaska’s Northern Slope (formally the BPXA Flow Station 1 Drill Site 2 Well 3 Release) that blew out on Friday continues to spill petroleum.  The remoteness of the site translates into essentially all the info coming from BP (or via state authorities who are in turn passing… Read more »

River Spill

We are in southern Louisiana with my ESRM 492: Service Learning in New Orleans class.  Today we head down to lower Plaquemines Parish and it just so happens at 2am this morning we had a small spill of oil in the river.  Details are still flowing in and the Coast Guard are responding, but so… Read more »

Chennai Oil Spill

Our friends in India are battling a new oil spill that began in the early morning hours of Saturday, January 28, 2017.  The cargo ships BM Maple (UK flagged) and Dawn Kanchipuram (Indian flagged) collided about 4 km outside the mouth of Kamrajar Harbor, itself about 24 km north of Chennai Port, Chennai in the southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu.  The Dawn… Read more »

Ballooning Plastic

A few distinct, but unrelated experiences have brought the issue of plastic balloons in the ocean into frequent conversation this week. It began with last Saturday’s annual California Coastal Cleanup Day.  I happened to be out on Santa Cruz Island with my son’s Boy Scout Troop.  Our 30 scouts made quick work of the debris… Read more »

Ojai Oil Tank On Fire

A now more than 12 alarm fire erupted within the past hour in Ojai, California (in western Ventura County).  The incident was reported at 8:35 a.m. near Highway 150 and Topa Lane roughly here ( 34.438417°, -119.132719°): The incident was originally thought to be a burning oil derrick, but subsequent reports have clarified that it is instead a… Read more »

Rio’s Toxic Olympic Waters

Every two years the Olympic Games roll around and we are treated to endless commentary and an amazingly small amount of actual sport (at least on NBC Universal Channels that have a stranglehold on U.S. broadcasts via their $7.75 billion contract).  Outside of the NBC hype machine, we have seen a pattern in recent years of… Read more »

Ball of Confusion: Hall Canyon 1 Month On

It is almost one month since our most recent energy infrastructure foundering: Crimson Pipeline’s release of crude oil into the hills above the City of Ventura.  Lots of developments continue to burble up as we all try to figure out the next surprise.

Hall Canyon Spill

Yet another start of the summer and yet another pipeline break on the south coast.

  • Environmental Protection in the oil and gas industry in Nigeria by Eghosa Ekhator

    While there are some formatting issues with this open access paper by Eghosa Ekhator, his central tenants are solid.  To all our friends who would have us suspend oil drilling in the U.S., I would suggest that at a minimum it is morally untenable to do so without first ceasing extraction in locations around the world… Read more »

  • Oiling is Localized to Summerland

    After several hours of detailed field assessments across Summerland beaches and associated explorations of neighboring beaches bracketing the Summerland area yesterday, we now have a much clearer and complete picture of the current beach oiling event occurring in Summerland at the moment.  Below I summarize the state of affairs as of Sunday, August 23, 2015.  … Read more »

  • Summerland field observations

    More to come shortly, but the oiling here appears to clearly be a case of heavier than normal seep activity. The issue seems to have been driven by some local topography concentrating the oil into some rather defined pools/swales.  Several of these happen to be right at the foot of the main public ramp/entrance to… Read more »

  • Fresh oil in Summerland

    A New Spill? We are getting several reports in recent hours of oil washing up in and around Summerland, CA (south of the city of Santa Barbara).  At this point, the source is unclear.  As with the sighting in late July, this could well prove to be simply heightened seep oil activity, but the volume… Read more »

  • Line 96

    Unstranding Stranded Oil Venoco’s Ellwood Onshore Facility and Mobile Line 96 has had a bunch of pent up oil since the May 19 pipeline break (and associated shutdown) of the Plains All American Pipeline.  Shutting down the Plains All American main pipeline stranded oil in upstream feeder lines.  Venoco was finally granted permission to use… Read more »

  • Accidents beget more accidents…especially in Deepwater

    Here is an interesting poster from the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (one of the daughter regulatory arms of the Interior Department birthed from the now dead Minerals Management Service in the wake of the Deepwater Horizon blowout). BSEE analysts have used inspection and accident incident reports from 2011 through 2014 to show that… Read more »

  • Rare Bipartisanship on Oil Regulation

    Wow!  I guess dreams really do come true.  At least when it comes to critiquing federal agencies in the wake of an oil spill.  And when the agency that has been understaff and under-resourced bears some of the blame for an oil spill, you bet that we can all get on board the you are to… Read more »

  • KVTA July 7 Interview

    This past Monday, I returned to the KVTA Morning show with Tom Spence and Rich Gualano to discuss the past month in our Refugio Oil Spill saga.  We discuss the evidence that pipeline oil spanned at least three counties, the problem with a lack of access in the early part of the spill timeline, and… Read more »

  • Unusual Metrics: Documenting our Workload

    Not everything that counts can be counted, and not everything that can be counted counts. — Albert Einstein   We have been fortunate to have been running a Summer Institute for undergraduates from CSU Channel Islands and our regional Community Colleges since 2009.  Every June we pull in students from these campuses and embed them… Read more »

  • Naples Reef Still Looking Good

      Our colleagues at Santa Barbara Channelkeeper just ran another subtidal inspection on Naples Reef (a few minutes south of the Refugio spill epicenter) and happily again found no obvious sign of major oiling in the area.  This combined with our previous surveys in this same area a few weeks back and California Reef Check‘s… Read more »