Rincon Island Wells Plugged and Abandoned by State of California

One of the last oil facilities in state waters on the path towards full decommissioning slated to begin in 2022.

Rincon Island
Rincon Island facility offshore Ventura County, California.
Source: California State Lands Commission

The California State Lands Commission, in collaboration with the Department of Conservation’s California Geological Energy Management Division, has plugged and abandoned all 50 wells on Rincon Island and all 24 state onshore production wells. Rincon Island, off the coast of Ventura County, is one of a handful of remaining offshore oil structures in state waters. According to the State Lands Commission, decommissioning these offshore structures is a major part of California’s transition away from fossil fuels and toward a clean energy future.

The Commission took responsibility for decommissioning Rincon in 2017, after the operator Rincon Island Limited Partnership, a subsidiary of Greka Energy, declared bankruptcy.

The Commission and its contractor Driltek plugged and abandoned the 74 wells ahead of schedule, under budget, and without incident or spillage.

“This is an incredible accomplishment and a testament to our team’s commitment, expertise, and work ethic,” said Lieutenant Governor and State Lands Commission chair Eleni Kounalakis. “We look forward to bringing this same skill and commitment to the remaining decommissioning work that lies ahead as California sets its sights on our clean energy future.”

With the wells plugged and abandoned, remaining phase one work, consisting of site clearance activities to remove decrepit oil production infrastructure, is underway and anticipated to be complete by June 2021.

Phase two consists of development of a feasibility study and completion of an analysis under the California Environmental Quality Act, which will inform a decommissioning plan for Rincon Island, the onshore facility, and the causeway that connects the artificial island to the mainland. This work, which will include public outreach and engagement, will begin soon and is anticipated to be complete in 2022.

Execution of the decommissioning plan will commence following the completion of phase two.