Has the oil leak been stopped? What we know about the origin of the massive Orange County spill

Patriot Environmental Services workers clean up oil that spilled into Talbert Marsh in Huntington Beach on Sunday. (Myung J. Chun / Los Angeles Times)

The massive oil spill in Orange County is linked to an oil complex off the coast of Southern California that has accumulated a long record of incidents and federal compliance violations.

As divers from Houston-based Amplify Energy Corp. searched on Sunday for the location and cause of the massive leak, many questions remain, including how at least 126,000 gallons of crude spilled into the sea. why this happened and if the oil stopped flowing. .

The platform linked to the leak is more than eight miles from the coast. But the leak appears to be in another place. Here is what we know:

Where is the leak?

The potential source of the oil leak is about 4.5 miles off the coast, somewhere between an oil processing platform called Elly and along a 17.5 mile pipeline to shore, where it is delivered to a local refinery, Martyn Willsher, Amplify Energy chairman and CEO, said in a Sunday afternoon briefing.

Heavy crude is pumped through this single pipeline to shore, Willsher said. The oil is introduced into the Beta pumping station in Long Beach.

The offshore oil processing platform and pipeline have been owned by Amplify Energy for nine years, Willsher said. It is operated as a subsidiary of Amplify Energy, Beta Operating Co.

Amplify Energy is asking divers to inspect the potential source of the leak and investigate its cause. Willsher said his company notified the Coast Guard on Saturday morning of the oil spill after inspectors noticed an oily sheen in the water. The flow in the pipeline that was suspected of leaking was closed on Saturday evening.

But officials say the oil continued to leak through Sunday night.

Elly, the oil processing platform, is supplied by some 70 oil wells. The processing platform separates the oil from the water. “It’s just crude oil that’s being sent to shore,” Willsher said.

“We are fully committed to staying here until this incident is over,” said Willsher. “Our employees live and work in these communities, and we are all deeply touched and concerned… We will do everything in our power to have this recovered as quickly as possible.”

Map showing the Elly and Eureka platforms off the coast of Huntington Beach.

(Paul Duginski / Los Angeles Times)

Is it still leaking?

Willsher said Sunday afternoon that divers were still investigating whether the oil was continuing to flow into the ocean.

The company won’t know until divers have had a chance to perform a complex inspection of pipelines on the seabed, about 80 to 100 feet below the ocean’s surface.

Divers investigated the potential site of the leak.

Some local officials said they believe the leak has stopped and hope to have more answers on Monday.

Elly and Ellen Oil Platforms

Oil rigs Elly, left, and Ellen stand about nine miles off Huntington Beach in this image taken on August 27, 2019. (Sean Greene / Los Angeles Times)

Where is the oil going?

Currents in the area on Sunday afternoon were moving southeasterly in the waters off Newport Beach.

Oil has been seen in this seaside town, but nowhere near as much as in Huntington Beach, where the crude spilled into the marshes.

Authorities expect the oil to continue to run aground over the next few days.

Laguna Beach has closed its shores as a precaution, and officials say there is evidence of oil along the city’s coast.

Winds and weather conditions, coupled with the leak’s proximity to the shore, made the oil slick scatter particularly wide, experts said.

This is a huge reason why such a large strip of beaches is now wasted.

This story originally appeared in the Los Angeles Times.

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