Hapag-Lloyd ship cleared to go as investigators focus on pipeline operator in California spill inquiry

Investigations into last weekend’s pipeline spill off Orange County in California continue with one suspect allowed to carry on its way.

The US Coast Guard had boarded Hapag-Lloyd’s Rotterdam Express earlier this week in Oakland amid a media frenzy that a dragged anchor could have been blamed for the oil washing up on beaches south of Los Angeles.

The German ship had been the nearest one at anchorage to the spill from the San Pedro Bay Pipeline spill before carrying on north to Oakland. However, the vessel has been allowed to continue its voyage to Mexico, and attention has turned once again to the pipeline operator Beta Offshore and its parent company Amplify Energy as clean-up operations continue to clear up the 3,000 barrels of oil spilt.

Investigators are questioning why it took the operator more than three hours to react after an alarm went off suggesting something was wrong with the pipeline.

Beta Operating Company has been cited by federal regulators for more than 100 violations over the past 11 years, according to CNN. The company is said to have had 125 incidents of non-compliance documented by the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement, which oversees the offshore drilling industry.

Sam Chambers

Starting out with the Informa Group in 2000 in Hong Kong, Sam Chambers became editor of Maritime Asia magazine as well as East Asia Editor for the world’s oldest newspaper, Lloyd’s List. In 2005 he pursued a freelance career and wrote for a variety of titles including taking on the role of Asia Editor at Seatrade magazine and China correspondent for Supply Chain Asia. His work has also appeared in The Economist, The New York Times, The Sunday Times and The International Herald Tribune.
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