If this is approved by the regulators, it’s a pretty sweet deal for both the oil company and the environmentalists in Santa Barbara. PXP will be allowed to drill and profit from record oil prices, while prime real estate owned by the company will be spared development and donated to a land conservancy:
A Houston oil company has agreed to shut down its offshore oil production off Santa Barbara County decades early in exchange for approval this year to drill into untapped undersea reserves and cash in on the nation’s record oil prices.
To sweeten the deal, Plains Exploration & Production Co. — known as PXP — also has agreed to donate about 200 acres of oceanview property along the sparsely populated Gaviota coast and an additional 3,700 acres in Santa Barbara’s premier wine-growing region for public parkland. It would withdraw a proposed housing development on that land and pay millions to fund projects that offset carbon dioxide emissions, such as low-emission public buses.
Steve Rusch, a PXP vice president, said the company was willing to make concessions because it wanted to do more than simply neutralize offshore oil’s traditional opponents — it wanted to enlist their support. Since the 1980s, most offshore oil development in California has been met with fierce opposition, including protracted litigation, congressional moratoriums and bureaucratic delays.
So beginning later this month, Krop and her clients will support PXP in its petition to use “slant drilling” from one of its four offshore platforms to tap into an undersea oil field, the Tranquillon Ridge, that could yield as much as 200 million barrels of oil and 50 billion cubic feet of natural gas.