At the same time, 86,000 barrels of oil seep through natural sources onto the Santa Barbra coast. No one seems to be too upset about that.
So, what are the latest numbers on natural oil seep quantities? We at SOS first started our little non-profit nine years ago because we were astounded by the amount of oil and gas flowing into our local coastal waters. We reviewed studies by pre-eminent researchers at UC Santa Barbara (UCSB). A 1999 publication by Hornafius et al. was entitled The World’s Most Spectacular Marine Hydrocarbon Seeps. The study states that literature reviews of marine hydrocarbon seepage usually conclude that the area along the northern Santa Barbara Channel is one of the most prolific hydrocarbon seepage areas in the world. We knew natural seepage existed at other places worldwide. The idea that quantities in the channel were comparable was astounding. Upon reviewing the 1999 study by Quigley et al. that showed oil production could reduce seepage – we were hooked. (More about that later!)
But what are those quantities? The UCSB Hydrocarbon Seeps Project is the online compendium of ongoing research on the natural laboratory that is the Coal Oil Point seep field. Based upon this research and data from analyses of other seeps in the Santa Barbara Channel our co-founder Bruce Allen, a physicist, extracted the estimate that roughly 86,000 barrels/3,000,000 gallons of oil bubble into the Santa Barbara Channel each year.