Amplify Energy Corp. has been given permission to restart its offshore pipeline that was involved in an oil spill this year, according to the company. It recently filled the pipeline, which takes oil to shore from San Pedro Bay, near Los Angeles and Long Beach harbours. The pipeline was damaged by ships that dragged anchors during a storm in January 2021, leading to the spill of 25,000 gallons of crude oil. Travel and tourism companies, property owners and fishermen have sued Amplify and the shipping vessels involved, and Amplify agreed to pay $50m, while the shipping companies paid $45m, to settle those claims. Amplify also agreed a plea deal regarding its negligently discharging crude. The spill created a miles-wide sheen in the ocean and sent crude ashore, primarily affecting Huntington Beach and Newport Beach.
The decision to restart the pipeline, less than a year after it caused a devastating spill, has been criticised by activists and others. The Guardian newspaper reports that local politicians and environmental campaigners are acting to prevent that by initiating attempts to block the pipeline’s return to service. The pressure on Amplify to permanently shut down the facility comes as climate activists aim to end the extraction and transportation of fossil fuels. “Activism locally and globally is forcing oil companies to listen and act on the need to transition from fossil fuels to clean energy,” activist Anthony Kiedaisch told The Guardian. A spokesperson for the company confirmed that it had undertaken a “thorough evaluation of the incident” and that it had made “appropriate repairs, replacements, and adjustments” to the pipeline to ensure it is safe.
The 17.6-mile underground pipeline can transport up to 21,000 barrels of crude oil per day from four platforms in the Santa Barbara Channel to shore, according to Amplify. The company’s CEO, Martyn Willsher, has said the pipeline has been “a vital part of the Southern California energy infrastructure for almost 40 years” and he added that the repairs would ensure it is safe and environmentally sound for many years to come. Coastal conservation lobbyists are campaigning for an eventual end to offshore oil drilling, and long-mooted proposals to repurpose decommissioned oil rigs as marine conservation zones could be on the table in California in the years ahead. Governor Gavin Newsome has called for a halt to offshore oil drilling in the state by 2024.