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Huntington Beach Oil Spill: Houston-Based Amplify Energy Owns Rig That Spilled Oil Into Waters Off Orange County

HUNTINGTON BEACH (CBSLA) — Amplify Energy, the Houston-based company that owns the rig that spilled 126,000 gallons of oil into the waters off Huntington Beach, saw its stock plunge Monday at the prospect of massive fines and penalties.

The spill, which was first detected Saturday, happened in federal waters at the offshore Elly Platform, about nine miles off the coast. It is run by Beta Offshore, a subsidiary of Amplify Energy Corporation. The rig was built in 1980 and processes crude oil from two other platforms that is transported via 41-year-old pipes at the bottom of the ocean.

Amplify Energy Corp. Chief Executive Officer Martyn Willsher speaks during a press conference about the response to an oil spill in the Pacific Ocean in Huntington Beach, California on October 4, 2021. - A huge oil spill was killing wildlife and threatening California's beaches on October 4, 2021, in what officials said amounted to an "environmental catastrophe." (Photo by Patrick T. FALLON / AFP) (Photo by PATRICK T. FALLON/AFP via Getty Images)

Amplify is a small, independent oil company with 222 employees that was created in 2017 out of the bankruptcy of another small oil company called Memorial Production Partners. The rig in question was built in the late 1970s and early 1980s and is inspected every other year, according to Amplify CEO Martyn Willsher.

"Our employees live and work in these communities, and we're all deeply impacted and concerned about the impact on not just the environment, but the fish and wildlife as well," he said in a Sunday news conference. "We will do everything in our power to ensure that this is recovered as quickly as possible, and we won't be done until this concluded."

Beta has 125 violations for non-compliance by federal regulators, with more than half designated as serious in nature.

TIMELINE: Huntington Beach Oil Spill

Willsher said the company notified the Coast Guard of the spill on Saturday morning, when employees were conducting a line inspection and noticed a sheen in the water. Divers have examined more than 8,000 feet of pipe and an area of significant interest has been isolated, Willsher said. He declined to specify at a Monday afternoon news conference what may have caused the leak.

Capt. Rebecca Ore of the U.S. Coast Guard suggested that the presence of container ships waiting to offload their shipments at the Ports of LA and Long Beach may have played a role in the oil spill.

The company's shares have plunged about 44% in early trading Monday, the first day of trading since the spill was discovered. The company said in August it had spent $1.7 million to increase its operations at the federal lands off the Southern California coast.

Amplify's processing operation, which includes about 70 wells, has been entirely shut down as the investigation and clean-up from the oil spill continues.

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