Oil Pipeline Operator to Pay Almost $13 Million Over Huntington Beach Spill

Members of a contracted cleanup team collect tar on Crystal Cove Beach in Newport Beach, Calif. on Oct. 14, 2021. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Janessa Warschkow.

Amplify Energy Corp., operator of the underwater pipeline that burst and released thousands of gallons of oil into Huntington Beach, Calif. waters in 2021 has agreed to pay close to $13 million as part of a plea agreement with the U.S. government, the company announced Aug. 26.

To settle all federal criminal issues associated with the spill, the Houston-based oil and natural gas company agreed to pay a $7.1 million fine over three years and pay back $5.8 million to government agencies for responding to the spill.

The company also agreed to plead guilty to one count of misdemeanor negligent discharge of oil violating the Clean Water Act, serve a four-year probation and enact measures such as putting in a new leak detection system and bolster Remote Operated Vehicle inspections of the pipeline.

“We believe this resolution, which is subject to court review and approval, reflects the commitments we made immediately following the incident to impacted parties and is in the best interest of Amplify and its stakeholders,” Amplify President and CEO Martyn Willsher said in the announcement. “We are committed to safely operating in a way that ensures the protection of the environment and the surrounding communities.”

The agreement comes nearly a year after the oil spill forced Orange County beaches to close for water activities and recreational fishing.

By Karen Robes Meeks