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Permit Revocation Snags Harbor-Texas Oil Pipeline

February 05, 1989|SHERYL STOLBERG | Times Staff Writer

A long-delayed plan to build a 1,030-mile oil pipeline from the Los Angeles Harbor to Texas hit yet another bureaucratic snag when the federal government revoked a key permit.

Complaining that the San Pedro-based Pacific Texas Pipeline Co. had failed to pay nearly $100,000 in fees, the U.S. Bureau of Land Management late last month rescinded its 1986 decision to let the company run the pipe under federal land in four states.

The line cannot be built without the permit, but Pac-Tex, as the pipeline company is called, can apply for a new permit if it pays the $99,538 it owes the bureau for rental of those federal lands.

"The only thing that prevented them from going forward was (that) they didn't pay the bill," said Jim Woodworth, a spokesman for the bureau's California office.

Pac-Tex President Cecil R. Owens was reported to be ill and not available for comment.

The proposed 42-inch-wide underground pipeline would carry up to 900,000 barrels of crude oil per day. The oil would arrive at Los Angeles Harbor by tanker and travel via the pipeline to Midland, Tex., where it would enter 14 other pipeline systems for transportation to refineries in the Midwest, East and Gulf Coast.

The oil would come primarily from Alaska's North Slope, but also from California's outer continental shelf, on-shore sources and Pacific Rim countries, according to a statement released last year by Pac-Tex.

The pipeline would have to cross 269 miles of federal land in California, Arizona, New Mexico and Texas, according to Woodworth. He said the money owed to the government is for rental of those lands since May 1986, when the permit was granted.

Hundreds of Permits

The permit was one of hundreds of local, state and federal approvals that Pac-Tex must obtain to begin construction. Skeptics have often predicted that the company would be unable to get so many permits; a similar pipeline proposal by Standard Oil of Ohio was dropped a decade ago for that reason.

Pac-Tex officials, however, have said they have nearly all the permits needed. The long delays have been from a lack of financial backing for the project, according to several sources.

As early as December, 1982, Owens said he was in the final stages of getting money for the project.

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