Overseas, systems running on computerized platforms can detect small leaks in pipelines, monitoring oil pressure and flow from command centers that operate 24 hours a day. In some cases, a program is designed to automatically snap valves into place to save oil.
And, beyond that, government regulators and private firms use an accurate armada of inspection. Airplanes, drones, divers – all look for traces of oil spills.
But all of these precautions were not enough to prevent oil from seeping into Huntington Beach from an underwater pipeline this month.
Some observers say the current oil drilling rules, and the industry-standard technology, are too loose to expand like the pipeline that became commonplace on October 2, including the money-wasting Amplify Energy Inc. Includes pipeline operated by. .
“The big picture is that there are failures,” said Miyako Saksita, a lawyer at the Center for Biological Diversity, an environmental group that monitors offshore oil work.
“They are sleeping on wheels.”
The gap of knowledge.
About two weeks after the eruption, it is still unclear what caused the pipeline to explode or how long – and how long – it leaked.
Leakage is currently estimated at between 25,000 gallons and 131,000 gallons.
And when the first reports of an outbreak surfaced on Saturday, October 2, at 8:55 a.m., when Amplify called the Federal Spill Hotline and said its workers were looking for oil in the water, the problem probably started much earlier. It happened.
On the afternoon of Friday, October 1, residents of Newport Beach, Costa Mesa and Irvine reported an odor in the air that smelled of gas or tar. And that evening, oil spills on a Huntington Beach ship reported oil splashes on the water, using the same hotline that Amplify used on Saturday morning.
Neither the company nor the emergency officials seemed to understand the scope of these initial reports, which lasted for about a day. The city of Huntington Beach canceled an air show – which carried an estimated 1.5 million visitors to the coast – on Sunday morning.
“Why in the world did it take them so long to find the leak?” State Assemblywoman Coty asked Petrie Norris, who was named chair of a legislative committee this week, on how to prevent the spread and others.
Petrie Norris, whose district covers most of Orange County, said he had questions about the “immediate level” of amplification.
“Weren’t their detection systems the same? Do our laws need to be improved for detection systems?”
Martin Wilshire, CEO of Amplif, said diving teams who later inspected a section of the pipeline found it “bent like a bow.”
The theory is that the massive anchor from the cargo ship hooked the pipeline and dragged it. But after a preliminary investigation, the US Coast Guard does not yet know when the effect occurred.
What is known is that the pipeline was built in 1981. During this time, Amplify has also upgraded the pipeline – including the leak detection system – to meet industry standards.
But records and federal documents also show a history of security and surveillance failures.
In 2019, Amplify reported to the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration وفاقی a federal agency that oversees the safety of drilling operations and environmental concerns-that its subordinate Beta Shore workers inspected the 17-mile pipeline. ۔ The inspection found corrosion, metal damage, dents and deformation. Despite the age of the pipeline, the company did not find anything that needed significant repairs.
The company also inspected a separate federal agency in October 2020, Amplify CEO Willshire told reporters this month. Again, the company reported that it did not need to upgrade the pipeline.
Such self-inspection is common for oil companies and federal regulators. At least one critic suggests that the relationship is very close.
“Even effective monitoring could not stop it completely, as regulators themselves have a customer service relationship with the oil industry,” said Sakashita of the Center for Biological Diversity.
“They don’t put enough resources into foreign oil and gas veins (surveillance).”
Some in the federal government agree.
Since 2006, PHMSA has initiated four federal enforcement cases against pipeline operators. The most serious came in 2008, when the agency found that the operator had failed to inspect three main line valves for almost a year. Companies are required to inspect such valves at least twice a year.
But in none of these four enforcement cases did federal regulators propose any corporate fines, or take any corrective action.
Although PHMSA focuses on pipelines and spans a separate agency, the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement is tasked with controlling U.S. foreign oil and gas facilities and pipelines.
And yet, according to a report by the U.S. Government Accountability Office, the agency “does not have a strong oversight process to ensure the integrity of thousands of miles of noise pipelines.”
The GAO found oversight in a study that began in 2016 and 2017 after two serious leaks in the Gulf of Mexico.
The BSE “does not normally inspect or require sub-inspections of functional pipelines,” the GAO wrote, “instead … on monthly level observations and leak detection pressure sensors. Depending. ”
The GAO wrote that these methods are “not always reliable for detecting breakdowns.”
Saksita, who has studied the effects of at least two other major spills off the coast of California over the past decade as CBD’s director of oceans, said the unusual oversight had damaged the state’s oil infrastructure. Has been plagued for years.
“All of them have had insufficient oversight from the beginning,” he said.