US-based crude oil transportation and production company Amplify Energy announced on Saturday that it has received the necessary approvals from federal regulatory agencies to restart operations at the Beta Field offshore Southern California.
The company will initially focus on filling the San Pedro Bay Pipeline, a 17-mile-long pipeline that transfers crude oil from several offshore facilities to a processing plant in Long Beach. The pipeline has been out of operation since it was damaged by a ship’s anchor and released some 25,000 gallons of crude oil into the water back in October 2021.
The filling process is expected to take two weeks to complete.
Following the line fill process, the pipeline will be operated in accordance with the restart procedures that were reviewed and approved by the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA). Amplify Energy’s President and CEO, Martyn Willsher, emphasized that safety would remain the company’s top priority as it resumes operations at the Beta Field.
“The approval from federal regulatory agencies and the receipt of $85 million in net proceeds from the vessels that struck and damaged our pipeline substantially concludes a very challenging last 18 months for the Company,” Willsher said. “We are eager to focus our attention on safely operating our Beta assets, our business as a whole, and the strategic direction of the Company.”
The pipeline breach that caused the oil spill remains under investigation, but the U.S. Coast Guard and National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) believe the pipeline was dragged by a ship’s anchor during a storm on January 25, 2021—more than 9 months before the oil spill was discovered. The incident was never reported and the pipeline was not inspected until oil began washing up on Southern California beaches in early October 2021.
Divers discovered that part of the pipeline had been displaced by about 100 feet on the seafloor and had a 16-inch crack located approximately 4.7 miles west of Huntington Beach. The MSC Danit and Beijing, two containerships, have been named parties of interest in the initial anchor dragging.
The incident came as the San Pedro Bay anchorages were packed with ships waiting to enter the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach amid the pandemic-induced imports surge that overwhelmed the nation’s supply chains.
In relation to the incident, Amplify Energy pleaded guilty to criminal negligence charges last year and agreed to pay nearly $13 million in fines after it was discovered that the company continued to operate the pipeline for hours after leak alarms went off and then improperly restarted the pipeline after it had been shut down.
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