Standard Oil Co. of Ohio said yesterday it has finally and unequivocally abandoned its controversial $1 billion pipeline project to transport Alaskan crude oil via Long Beach, Calif., to Texas and the Midwest.
In a statement issued from its Cleveland headquarters, Sohio Chairman Alton Whitehouse said the company was taking the action despite a flurry of efforts by local, state and federal officials to revive the project.
The Sohio decision came as California Gov. Edmund G. (Jerry) Brown Jr. was signing into law a bill designed to persuade Sohio to revive the project. The measure declares it state policy for all local, regional and state agencies to expedite final decisions with respect to licenses and permits for construction and operation of the project.
Sohio and initialy announced its intention to abandon the pipeline plan on March 13, citing delays in obtaining regulatory approvals, but agreed to consider reviving it if the regulatory process could be speeded.
In recent weeks, the last of the significant state and local regulatory hurdles had been cleared. But the threat of lawsuits - three are now pending - and other delays, plus the apparent decline in the project's potential profit to Sohio, had raised doubts that it would be revived. Sohio had not completely closed the door to it until yesterday, however.
Expressing thanks to key members of Congress and the Carter administration and to the California Legislature for their efforts to "search out ways to help," Whitehouse said that, "Neither these government leaders nor Sohio can turn around the results of five years of delay which have substantially eroded the attractiveness of this project."
"The project is dead," added William Culver, Sohiohs West Coast manager, based in Long Beach. The port, south of Los Angeles, would have been the site of a terminal to pump 500,000 barrels daily into a 1,000-mile existing pipeline to Midland, Tex.
Sohio has spent more than $50 million in the five years it has attempted to gain the 715 permits necessary to build the project.
Whitehouse volunteered to make Sohiohs preparatory work available to another oil company.