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Firm Says It Can Still Use Barges for Offshore Oil

Unless it expands its operations, company does not expect to have to use pipelines under a bill that is on the governor's desk.

August 30, 2003|From a Times Staff Writer

SACRAMENTO — A Santa Barbara County petroleum company said Friday that it will still be able to barge oil to California refineries if a bill that cleared the Legislature this week is signed into law.

A Venoco Inc. official had said Monday that such a law would force the Carpenteria-based company to haul oil pumped from the Santa Barbara coast all the way to Washington state.

But on Friday, Venoco Vice President Mike Edwards clarified his statement, saying that the company would be forced to consider barging oil out of state only if it triggered certain provisions of the bill by drilling more wells or expanding its lease boundaries.

"So long as we don't add an additional well, we can still land our barge in California," Edwards said.

The bill by Assemblywoman Hannah-Beth Jackson (D-Santa Barbara) would require companies to use pipelines, not barges or tankers, to deliver oil produced off California's coast to refineries. The pipeline mandate would apply only to oil extraction operations that are new or expanded after January 2003.

Venoco now uses barges to carry oil to refineries in the Los Angeles and San Francisco Bay areas. Edwards said a pipeline to carry the oil could cost $10 million to $20 million.

If the bill is signed into law and Venoco expands its operations, he said, the company may find it more economical to barge oil to Washington than to build a pipeline.

Gov. Gray Davis has not taken a position on the bill, said his spokesman, Russ Lopez.

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