The Effect of Hydrocarbon Production on Offshore Natural Seep Rates in the Coal Oil Point Area, Santa Barbara, California

Award Period: 

Monday, August 29, 2016 to Saturday, August 31, 2019

Award Amount: 

$499 949

Agency Name: 

USDI Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement

Award Number: 


PI First Name: 


PI last name: 


MSI Person: 

Area/s of Research: 


This proposal describes a research project led by the University of California Santa Barbara (PI David Valentine) and conducted with sub equal contribution from the University of New Hampshire (PI Tom Weber).  The primary research goal of this project is to quantify the relationship between the natural hydrocarbon seep flux and hydrocarbon production by capitalizing on two conditions: shut in versus resumption of hydrocarbon production.  This goal will be achieved by using geophysical methods to survey and monitor the flux of oil and gas at a hydrocarbon seep located at close proximity to Platform Holly, in the Coal Oil Point seep area.  The platform is currently shut in, providing an opportunity to quantify oil and gas flux in the absence of hydrocarbon production; the return to production will provide an opportunity to test the hypothesis that production reduces the rates of natural seepage.  The results from this study should inform the public, the local County and State governments, the media, and academia about natural seepage by assessing the potential for oil and gas production to reduce environmental release of petroleum. The results from this study should further inform as to the role of gas-driven transport in the migration of heavy Monterey oil through overlying strata and waters, and may further help BSEE and the U.S. Coast Guard anticipate/explain anomalous occurrences of oil in the water and on the beaches such as happened in July 2015, two months after the platforms were shut-in.