Many of the 27 oil platforms drilling into the underwater shelf off the coast from Santa Barbara to Huntington Beach are decades old and, in the eyes of the oil industry and others, ready to be shut down.
Some cost big money to operate at a time of sagging oil prices. Others need expensive technical upgrades. And all are political targets, widely viewed in a liberal state as bigger environmental risks than the potential reward of pulling yet more carbon-generating oil from the Earth.
But the rigs also represent potential profit. By some estimates at least one billion barrels of oil remain untapped in the shelf off of Southern California, much of it accessible from federal waters, not the state-controlled areas within three miles of the coastline.