Comments on "Sailboats and Drilling Rigs"

Spaulding, Arthur O. (Oil Administrator, City Of Los Angeles)

OnePetro 

In the article, "Sailboats and Drilling Rigs" (May, 1968, JPT, Page 451), authors C. S. Hutchinson and L. K. Williams have done a splendid job in describing the agonies and conflicts of interest between the people of Corpus Christi and the objectives of the oil industry relative to the discovery and development of oil reserves in Corpus Christi Bay. Indeed, the situation that the authors portray appears virtually to be identical with the problems presently confronting the citizens of Santa Barbara, problems presently confronting the citizens of Santa Barbara, Calif., the oil industry, the State of California and the U. S. government, who own the submerged lands seaward of Santa Barbara.

The case at Santa Barbara involves lands in which the City has no interest other than that derived from ad valorem taxation, and like the submerged lands of Corpus Christi Bay, the waters near Santa Barbara are believed to overlie rich accumulations of oil and gas. Santa Barbara has been effective in obtaining State legislation that has resulted in the creation of a state sanctuary within the 3-mile limit, for 13 miles along the Santa Barbara coastline. So far, the City has been unsuccessful, however, in projecting this sanctuary seaward into Federal waters; but projecting this sanctuary seaward into Federal waters; but the outcry from the City has been sufficiently intense that certain officials including, most recently, Secretary Udall have delayed the leasing of Federal lands until a relatively popular solution is achieved.

The situation with respect to waters bounding upon the City of Los Angeles is slightly different. These submerged lands have been granted to the City of Los Angeles by legislative act and, therefore, the City has a proprietary interest to accompany its concern for the aesthetic attributes connected with drilling operations in Santa Monica Bay.

The history of what Los Angeles has accomplished in the upland portion of the city is well known. The oil industry has faced up to the challenge of drilling in an urban environment in such a way as to be compatible with residential and commercial zoning, and the pictures presented by authors Hutchinson and Williams in their presented by authors Hutchinson and Williams in their paper provide cogent testimony to the success of urban Los paper provide cogent testimony to the success of urban Los Angeles drilling operations. Without the innovations represented by the drillsites of Occidental Petroleum Corp., Standard Oil Co. of Calif., and Mobil Oil Corp's lighthouse facility at Venice Beach, oil reserves measured in hundreds of millions of barrels might well have never been opened to the drill. Under the present circumstances, both operators and townlot property owners adjacent to these facilities are pleased with the results and rewards of urban oilfield pleased with the results and rewards of urban oilfield development.

Just as the City of Corpus Christi is doing, the City of Los Angeles is grappling with the complex problems of developing oil reserves in a marine environment, where preservation of aesthetic values is uppermost in the minds preservation of aesthetic values is uppermost in the minds of everyone. We have approached our problems in two separate ways; one, from the standpoint of zoning regulations, the other to include radical changes in the design of any drilling structures that might be considered for construction in the sanctuary areas. A considerable section of our Municipal Code now is devoted to the ground rules of drilling in Santa Monica Bay. Not only have we defined the nature, scope and purpose of such regulations, but we have attempted to quantify them in a meaningful fashion by providing for the establishment of offshore oil drilling districts in which operations would be governed by stringent controls over drilling facilities. With respect to our efforts to achieve new styles in the appearance of platforms, we have on hand a report that describes the impact of the use of color and design innovations. The work done by the City's architectural contractors in this connection has stimulated further study to determine what else might be done to render offshore drilling operations compatible with a marine environment.

Authors Hutchinson and Williams state that any realistic appraisal of the future compels us to consider the social environment when it comes to drilling for oil and gas. We heartily echo this remark, in that it applies with particular aptness to the situation along coastal California. In sanctuary areas the public interest requires that drilling operations not impair aesthetic and recreational values; and if marine drilling facilities can be made more attractive to the public, enormous areas of submerged lands currently protected by sanctuary regulations should become protected by sanctuary regulations should become available for exploration and development.

Comments on "Sailboats and Drilling Rigs"

The authors' interesting review of the case history of drilling in Corpus Christi Bay contains a real message for all of us who are concerned with urban oilfield development. Our industry's situation is very aptly stated by the remark on Page 452, "we do not become concerned or involved with a problem until it faces us in a blind alley", and "when positive actions by the frequently divergent and different interests start converging, there has to be either chaos or treaty."

Intelligent and workable regulations are necessary and can be obtained through joint action by oil company personnel, representatives of the people affected and members personnel, representatives of the people affected and members of responsible governmental agencies. It is not sufficient to depend upon petroleum industry information committees and oil company public relations people to adequately inform the general public of the advantages of orderly recovery of petroleum deposits under or near urban areas.

P. 783