San Ardo to Coalinga Heated Oil Pipeline Project EIR
Chevron Pipeline Company proposed to construct, operate, maintain, and eventually decommission an underground heated pipeline for crude oil. The pipeline would extend from the existing San Ardo Oil Field in the upper Salinas Valley to the Kettleman–Los Medanos Pipeline southeast of Coalinga in the San Joaquin Valley. The project would traverse parts of both Monterey and Fresno Counties and extend nearly 60 miles. Newly developed technology allowed Chevron to produce a significant amount of oil from its oil fields. The purpose of this project was to reduce the costs associated with trucking oil from oil fields in southern Monterey County to processing facilities located in western Fresno County.
The key issues were geotechnical and slope stability impacts associated with construction and operation of a heated oil pipeline over the San Andres Fault, through the Costal Ranges, and down into the San Joaquin Valley. Additional issues included impacts on surface water and biological resources associated with the construction and maintenance of the linear project spanning nearly 60 miles. Lastly, ensuring compliance with CEQA requirements and planning objectives for two counties was a particular challenge.
Benchmark assembled and managed a team of technical experts to address the complex logistical and environmental issues. The team considered that this linear project would be implemented over several years with a wide range of issues that would occur during construction, operation and decommissioning of the necessary pipeline facilities. The pipeline and supporting facilities were located in two separate counties; thus, Benchmark took the lead and coordinated and reconciled the two county’s different environmental review approaches. The project, while complex, was completed within the planned time frame and budget. The project was unanimously approved by both the Monterey County and Fresno County Planning Commissions.
The Benchmark Resources’ team developed a stormwater collection and groundwater recharge concept acceptable to both County staff and the applicant. Developing project-design options for a private project when under contract to a lead agency for environmental review is not a typical service provided the EIR consultants. However, both the County and applicant recognized that the Benchmark Resources’ team had the expertise and ability to most effectively develop the concept, and the concept was integrated into the project design.