Coastal Hazards & Legacy Wells

Five miles east of the city of Santa Barbara, CalGEM stepped in to support the State Lands Commission’s plug and abandonment of a coastal hazard and legacy oil and gas well in Summerland Field in the summer of 2021.

The Commission has re-abandoned six legacy oil and gas wells in Santa Barbara County as part of the SB 44 Program.

Legacy Well Re-abandonment at Summerland Beach. 2018 Becker Well completion, 2020 Treadwell 10 / Northstar 815 completion, 2021 Olsson 805 completion and Duquesne 910 completion, 2023 Treadwell Pier Wells 1 and 5 completion.

Larger view of infographic available.

In the late 1800s, the area offshore of Summerland Beach contained hundreds of oil wells and drilling infrastructure. Today, the coastline area retains the vestiges of that extensive offshore oil production. These are the unfortunate legacy of the rapid and intensive offshore oil development along the coastline that began just before the turn of the twentieth century, primarily at Summerland Beach in Santa Barbara County.

Most legacy oil and gas wells were abandoned in the early 1900s when oversight was nonexistent. Virtually no records exist regarding the drilling and abandonment of these wells. Removal, if any, varied from well to well and involved rudimentary procedures that fell well short of current health, safety, and environmental protection requirements. Based on the Commission’s research, there are roughly 200 high-priority legacy oil and gas wells (Category 1 wells), that could leak oil into the marine environment. Other wells are categorized as medium (Category 2 wells) to low (Category 3 wells).

Legacy Well Locations in Santa Barbara County. Completed re-abandonments are Olsson 805, Becker 1, NorthStar 815, Treadwell 10, and Duquesne 910. Pending re-abandonments are 2 Treadwell wells.

Photo Gallery: Becker well re-abandonment

The Becker well remediation is complete. Click through the series of photos below showing the oil leakage on Summerland Beach from the Becker well and the progress from when the crane barge arrived through the removal of the cofferdam, and finally, a photo of the Becker well site post-project.

Oil seeping up from the beach and forming a puddle in the sand.

1. Becker oil leak – February 2017

Crane barge arrival at the shore of Summerland beach

2. Crane barge arrival

Becker well cofferdam installation

3. Becker well cofferdam installation

Staff cleaning out cofferdam

4. Cleaning out cofferdam

Staff preparing to install 24 inch pipe pile

5. Preparing to install 24-inch pipe pile

Cement plug in place

6. Cement plug in place

Looking down on a welder Welding a steel plate on the casing

7. Looking down on a welder welding a steel plate on the casing

Workers preparing to remove the cofferdam

8. Preparing to remove the cofferdam

The cofferdam removed

9. The cofferdam removed

Person running along the beach they day after project completion

10. Becker site the day after project completion

Coastal Hazards

California’s first offshore oil wells, Summerland Field, circa 1915

The Commission, when funding is available, removes coastal hazards along the California coast. Coastal hazards include wood or steel piles or piling, sheet metal pilings, H piles and H beams, well casings, well caissons, railroad irons, cables, angle bars, pipes, pipelines, rip rap, and wood beams and structures. In the mid-1980s, the Commission inventoried coastal hazards and identified over 400 hazards on lands within its jurisdiction, many of which are on state and local beaches and in coastal areas that the public uses. Their presence is inherently at odds with safe beach access for recreation, fishing, surfing, swimming, kiteboarding, and other popular public activities. Removing coastal hazards is essential to safe public access.

Summary of shoreline hazards removal from Haskell’s Beach

In November 2020, the Commission and its consultant removed hazards on behalf of the City of Goleta, including 15 pipeline segments, that were exposed because of eroding bluffs. More information, including a site map, environmental compliance checklist, and pre-project biological survey, is available here.

Coastal Hazards & Legacy Oil & Gas Well Removal & Remediation Program annual progress reports

SB 44 (Jackson) requires the Commission to submit a report to the Legislature by January 1 of each year, until 2026, on the activities and accomplishments of the program for the prior year. Below are links to those reports.


Petroleum Production Engineer
Walter Scott

Media Inquiries or SB 44 questions
Sheri Pemberton