by Steve Layton
Today’s safe and environmentally responsible directional drilling technology will enable the recovery of tidelands and onshore oil resources from a single onshore location. This will protect the coastal community and deliver substantial benefits to Hermosa Beach.
That is what E&B Natural Resources is proposing, and what the City of Hermosa Beach will place on the ballot for voters to decide.
Last year, E&B Natural Resources approached the City of Hermosa Beach with a proposal to resolve a 14-year long lawsuit between the Macpherson Oil Company and the city. E&B provided the funds to help the Hermosa settle the lawsuit, in exchange for an opportunity to ask voters to consider whether or not to allow our company to produce oil in a safe and environmentally responsible manner and deliver substantial financial benefits to the community at large. We remain confident that we can, but the voters of Hermosa Beach will have their say on the matter following a thorough public review process conducted by the city under the requirements of the California Environmental Quality Act.
Since March of last year, E&B has been working diligently to design a project that meets the standards that Hermosa Beach residents deserve. This work is included in the comprehensive project application and description filed with the Hermosa late last year. The project would involve the construction and operation of a new oil recovery facility at the city’s maintenance yard at Valley Drive and 6th Street. Historically, the site was utilized as a municipal waste facility and more recently for oil recovery operations.
If the project moves into full construction and operation, the new facility will remediate the impacted soils in the area occupied by the former municipal waste facility. It will include the use of today’s latest, proven technology to address potential environmental issues, and will meet and exceed regulatory requirements, safeguarding workers and the surrounding community. It will bring technologies developed for use in the ultra-sensitive offshore environment to an onshore setting, which will greatly enhance the safety of the project. Automation and system redundancy will maximize safety and minimize risk. All recovery and processing operations will be fully contained within the site. It will utilize a closed loop design, protecting the project site and surrounding community from leaks or other incidents.
Starting now, and extending throughout most of 2013, the city will be undertaking a comprehensive environmental, safety and fiscal review process. The process will be inclusive, with public hearings to involve the community and enable citizens to raise questions and hear answers.
We look forward to participating in this process and believe that not only is it necessary, as required by CEQA, but it will also be very helpful to all those who participate.
We are proposing a project that has the potential to deliver an extraordinary financial benefit to the community. A soon to be released economic study by the Berkeley Research Group will quantify this benefit. We believe the potential revenue to the community to be in the hundreds of millions of dollars over the expected 30-year life of the project. However, we all must recognize that, as is the case with most long term projections, there is a wide range of potential outcomes, depending on various assumptions used when making the projections (i.e. the volume of oil produced or the price of oil per barrel). Understanding the range of potential outcomes will be an important part of the dialogue that will take place over the next 12 months regarding the potential benefits of the project.
For the voters to approve our proposal, we understand that we must not only demonstrate that we can operate the facility in a safe and environmentally responsible manner, but we must also establish trust within the community. We also understand that establishing trust takes time. We must be completely committed to an open, objective and constructive process from beginning to end.
In the coming months, I plan to continue meeting individuals and community organizations while the review process is underway. We have established an office in Hermosa Beach at 205 Pier Avenue and our door is wide open to anyone who has concerns or would like to learn more about the project or E&B.
Some have asked – Why Hermosa Beach? Why involve E&B in such a controversial project?
Our initial interest in this project did evolve from what we saw as a potential business opportunity, as would any other project we might entertain. But soon it became apparent that this was much more. In addition to the business opportunity there was a unique opportunity to do something good for a wonderful community by providing the catalyst (and capital) needed to settle a 14-year old lawsuit that had become a millstone around the neck of the town.
We also believed that it might be possible, given the technological advances of the past 20 years, to open a constructive dialogue with all sectors of the community in an effort to work together to design and build a safe and environmentally responsible project. Our project could supply the community with multi-decade revenue, a source substantial enough to empower the community to become whatever it seeks to be.
Steve Layton is president of E&B Natural Resources. ER