ExxonMobil will sell its troublesome offshore oil and gas fields in California that have been inactive since a pipeline leak in 2015, Reuters reported.
The sale follows a failed attempt to restart production at the location earlier this year and as Exxon closes underperforming operations. Exxon’s plan to resume operations and carry oil through dozens of tanker trucks each day to inland refineries was denied by Santa Barbara officials in March.
James Flores, an industry veteran who created blank check company Sable Offshore, will take out a five-year loan from Exxon to cover 97% of the $643 million purchase price. Exxon might retake control of the entire venture if Flores is unable to restart production at the Santa Ynez field by the beginning of 2026, Sable revealed in a document.
In order to reduce operating costs and boost returns following a huge loss in 2020, Exxon has accelerated asset sales.
According to a Sable investor presentation, Flores plans to apply for permits to restart Santa Ynez and anticipates pumping around 28,100 barrels of oil and gas per day starting in 2024.
Seven years ago, a subsea pipeline breach resulted in the release of 2,400 barrels of Santa Ynez oil into the Pacific Ocean, forcing a closure. Exxon acquired the pipeline from its owner and has been trying to resume production.
The Santa Ynez sale includes three offshore oil and gas platforms, a pipeline, and facilities for processing oil and gas. The platforms’ maximum distance from the California coast is 9 miles (14 km). The first platform, which was constructed in the 1970s, started releasing oil in 1981.