Exxon Co. USA will hire 600 workers, many from Ventura County, to build new onshore and offshore oil-processing facilities in Santa Barbara, the company announced Friday from its Thousand Oaks production office.
The Ventura County Contractors Assn. applauded the announcement as a much-needed boost to the county building industry, which says that there have been fewer local projects because of growth controls in cities throughout the county.
"That will have a very positive effect on our industry," said Steve Blois, a Ventura contractor who is association president.
The distance from Ventura to Santa Barbara is no deterrent for construction employees, he said.
"Work's work. They'll drive," Blois said.
Construction on the project, now in its second phase of development, is expected to begin this fall.
Exxon signed a subcontract agreement Friday with Ebasco Constructors of Santa Ana, which agreed to hire most workers from Ventura, Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo counties. Because Ventura has far more construction workers than the other two counties, the force will come predominantly from Ventura, Exxon spokesman Brian Dunphy said.
Exxon has already completed one phase of construction on the project, which includes two new offshore platforms and a gasoline- and oil-processing plant onshore. The onshore facilities, where the 600 will be employed, will be about 20 miles west of Santa Barbara in Las Flores Canyon, between Refugio State Beach and El Capitan Ranch Park.
The two platforms, named Harmony and Heritage, will be farther north and farther out to sea than Hondo, Exxon's only operating platform in the Santa Barbara Channel. Their metal frames are in the water now, and their upper level decks will be constructed in Texas and shipped next year.
Dunphy said the two platforms and the processing plant should be operational by 1993.
However, before the first oil is pumped, the project will be subject to scrutiny by Santa Barbara County officials, who will ensure its compliance with county permit restrictions.