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Underwater Seep Tents Dry Up off Goleta

An innovative way to capture a natural gas leak has apparently run its course off the Goleta coast.

Back in the 1980’s, ARCO capped a massive natural gas leak about one mile into the ocean using a large metal “tents” that actually looked like pyramids.

The system piped the gas to an on shore plant and it was used by The Gas Company customers.

Before that, it bubbled to the surface and turned into hydrocarbons that polluted the local air. It was so bad, air pollution officials said it was the equivalent to 35,000 cars a day on the road.

Last summer, Venoco, (the current owner) said the seeps were no longer collecting enough gas for the system. The natural leak was had slowed down tremendously, possibly from nearby production where Platform Holly is located.

“They used to capture up to a couple million cubic feet a day of natural gas and back as the (platform) production increased, the gas has decreased. Last August was the last time we captured any appreciable gas from those tents,” said Venoco’s Steve Greig on a boat recently near the seep site.

A buoy marks the spot in the ocean where the seeps are located.

The steel pyramids weigh 350 tons, and sit 50 feet up in the water from the ocean floor.

Now that the area is no longer a source of gas releases there will be a decommissioning plan in a few years but they could remain as an artificial reef.

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