After being delayed several times, a proposal to allow more oil drilling off the coast of Vandenberg Air Force Base in northern Santa Barbara County will be considered by the Santa Barbara Board of Supervisors today.
If permitted, the proposal would give Plains Exploration and Production Co., or PXP, the green light to construct a new extended, slanted pipeline from Platform Irene to the Tranquillon Ridge oil field, which is located beneath state waters.
In return for the right to develop the Tranquillon Ridge Oil and Gas Field Lease off Lompoc, PXP agreed last April to end its oil-drilling operations in the area by 2022 and shut down its Lompoc oil and gas plant. This agreement was the first of its kind ever in the United States.
Under the deal, which was negotiated between PXP and various environmental groups – including the notoriously anti-drilling group Get Oil Out! – PXP will be the first company allowed to tap oil reserves buried beneath state waters in almost four decades. California has not allowed new drilling in state waters since the 1969 Santa Barbara oil spill.
In addition to agreeing to an end-date for drilling operations, PXP agreed to donate over 3,900 acres of land – including 200 acres along the picturesque Gaviota Coast – to public parkland.
The project had faced appeals from both ExxonMobil Exploration & Sunset Exploration Inc. and Vaquero Energy Inc., but both appeals have been dropped in recent months.
The board of supervisors has delayed considering the project since mid-August.