March 20, 2023
You are here:  Home  >  Energy  >  Current Article

Santa Barbara County OKs ExxonMobil’s emergency permit to truck oil


The county of Santa Barbara has approved ExxonMobil’s emergency permit to truck oil.

Exxon plans to transport 425,000 barrels of oil currently sitting in two tanks at its Las Flores Canyon storage facility to destinations up to 140 miles north on Highway 101.

Trucking to empty the tanks is expected to take three to six months, with no more than 30 truck trips a day. The permit does not include trucking to support ongoing production nor authorize refilling the tanks from any source.

The county said the permit will mitigate the risks associated with long-term storage of oil. The opposition argues that the risk of trucking oil exceeds the danger posed by leaving the crude in storage. Exxon has been virtually shut down, along with Venoco, since Plains All American Pipeline ceased the operation of Line 901 and its connecting Line 903 following the Refugio oil spill.

Exxon is expected to begin trucking operations within three weeks, following installation of minor truck loading improvements at the Las Flores Canyon location. The permit was approved on Feb. 1; the ruling is final.

The county denied a separate Exxon permit request in June when the company asked to truck its ongoing production of crude oil. The most recent permit is limited to 425,000 barrels.

Venoco, which has regional offices in Carpinteria, was allowed to truck oil over a 17-day span to clear out its Platform Holly facility.

San Luis Obispo County will review on Feb. 4 and Feb. 5 Phillips 66’s proposed extension of its rail track by about 7,000 feet at its Santa Maria refinery. It would allow Phillips to use up to five unit trains per week, not exceeding 250 per year.

A unit train consists of three locomotives, two buffer cars and 80 rail cars carrying approximately 27,300 gallons of crude each, totaling about 2.19 million gallons.

The trains could arrive from points all over North America, depending on market availability, Phillips 66 said.

The proposal’s opposition argue that moving crude by rail isn’t safe, especially compared to pipeline transportation. Phillips says the decline in California crude production has caused it to look outside the state.

• Contact Alex Kacik at