Tag Archives: Santa Maria Refinery

REUTERS: California planners reject Valero oil-by-rail project

Repost from Reuters – Markets

California planners reject Valero oil-by-rail project

By Kristen Hays, Feb 12, 2016 1:29pm EST

Feb 12 Valero Energy Corp’s proposed oil-by-rail project at its northern California refinery was quashed by local planners this week, the first such facility on the U.S. West Coast to end a years-long wait for permits with a rejection.

The Benicia Planning Commission late Thursday unanimously renounced Valero’s request to build the project at the conclusion of four consecutive public hearings dominated by scores of opponents.

Valero first proposed building the rail facility at its 145,000 barrels per day Benicia refinery to offload up to 70,000 bpd of inland U.S. and Canadian heavy crude three years ago.

Several other West Coast rail projects await such decisions by local or state governments. Those include Tesoro Corp’s proposed 360,000 bpd railport in Washington State – the largest in the nation – and Phillips 66’s newly-trimmed 25,000 bpd facility at its Santa Maria refinery in Arroyo Grande, California.

Others gave up with U.S. crude prices down more than 70 percent since mid-2014 on global oversupply. That decline squeezed discounts of inland U.S. crude to global crudes, eroding oil-by-rail’s profitability.

Global Partners LP last month laid off workers and said the company would drop crude handling at its ethanol terminal in Oregon in the fallout of the oil rout.

Valero can ask the Benicia City Council to override planners and approve a permit for the project. A spokeswoman said on Friday that the company would “evaluate our options for appeal.”

The staff for Benicia’s planners recommended approval.

When Valero first proposed the project, oil-by-rail was growing fast and U.S. and Canadian crudes were much cheaper than global crudes, even with added transportation costs of moving via train. Rail also gave West Coast refiners a way to tap those crudes as no major oil pipelines cross the Rocky Mountains.

Not anymore. Shipments originating on top U.S. railroads fell 23 percent by the third quarter last year from the peak of 1.02 million bpd in the third quarter of 2014, according to the American Association of Railroads.

The Tesoro project remains under review by a state council in Washington, which will hold hearings in June and July.

San Obispo County planners are expected to decide on the Phillips 66 project next month, the company said. Staff for those planners recommended rejecting the facility.

    Santa Clara County votes to oppose oil trains

    Repost from NBC Bay Area
    [Editor:  See also coverage on CBS SF Bay Area.  – RS]

    Supervisors Oppose Proposed Project That Would Bring Oil Trains Through Santa Clara County

    By Robert Handa and Bay City News, Aug 24, 2015, 7:03 PM PDT

    Santa Clara County leaders, including some fire chiefs, are looking to join the Bay Area fight to stop railroad cars filled with crude oil from traveling through neighborhoods.

    The South Bay officials said they are worried a proposed plan in San Luis Obispo County could lead to a derailment, an environmental disaster and the loss of life.

    A recent train derailment in San Jose made some Santa Clara County leaders suddenly very interested in blocking the Phillips 66 proposal to expand its Santa Maria oil refinery.

    The plan to extend a Union Pacific rail line in San Obispo County would likely allow Phillips 66 to have up to five trains a week transporting millions of gallons of high sulfur crude oil around its Santa Maria refinery.

    The route would run through 40 miles of the county in Milpitas, downtown San Jose, Morgan Hill, Gilroy and unincorporated communities, according to Santa Clara County Supervisor Cindy Chavez.

    The project would have an option to use Caltrain from San Francisco to downtown San Jose, Chavez said.

    “A hundred years ago rail lines were going through prairies. Now they’re going through communities where people live, work, play and worship,” Chavez said.

    With nearly 2 million residents, Santa Clara County is a more densely populated area than elsewhere on the route, Yeager said.

    In addition to the human impact an oil train derailment would have, there would also be environmental consequences on air and soil quality and an already limited water supply, Yeager said.

    The Board of Supervisors is scheduled to vote on a resolution against the proposal during its Tuesday meeting.

    If the resolution is passed, the county plans to detail their opposition to the project in a letter to the San Luis Obispo County Board of Supervisors.  [Editor: the resolution passed by unanimous vote. – RS]

    The Santa Clara County Fire Chiefs’ Association has also written a letter to San Luis Obispo County officials for additional information, training and equipment to keep the county safe should the project move forward, Kehmna said.

    Palo Alto fire Chief Eric Nickel, president of the fire chiefs’ association, said Phillips should provide the resources to train county fire personnel instead of billing taxpayers.

    In an email Phillips 66 spokesman Dennis Nuss said, “We remain committed to safety and to our proposal. We understand that there may be opposition to the rail project, and we look forward to San Luis Obispo County providing responses to all issues that are raised and addressing them in compliance with CEQA.”

      Andrés Soto letter: Not fooled by Big Oil and Big Rail

      Letter to the editor, The Benicia Herald
      [Editor: Note that letters do not appear in the online edition of the Benicia Herald.  Andrés Soto lives in Benicia and is well-known throughout the San Francisco Bay Area for his environmental justice advocacy and his mastery of the saxophone.  I particularly like Andrés’ focus on 19th century historical context.  – RS]

      Not fooled by Big Oil and Big Rail

      By Andrés Soto, July 23, 2015

      Dear Editor:

      Andres Soto
      Andrés Soto

      The recent phenomenon of transporting dangerous, volatile Bakken Crude by rail has created an opportunity for the American people to learn the true motives of Big Oil and Big Rail and what we as impacted communities can do about it.

      Continuing derailments, explosions, fires and evacuations have shined the light on the Profit At Any Cost attitude of Big Oil and Big Rail. These industries grew up together in the late 19th century and led to some of the most egregious periods of income inequality, corruption and social conflict in US history.

      Now these industries are asking us to trust them and allow them to bring Bomb Trains through our communities, putting our town’s economic viability at risk for a short-term economic gain. Exploding trains all over North America tell us a different story and we are not fooled.

      Currently, the Valero Crude By Rail Project and the Phillips 66 San Luis Obispo Crude By Rail Project both put our town at risk for a catastrophe. Communities all over the country are standing up to oppose this high risk venture by Big Oil and Big Rail. Recently, the WesPAC Crude By Rail Project in Pittsburg, California removed the rail part of the project to make it a straight pipeline project.

      Fracked Bakken Crude and strip mined Alberta Tar Sands Crude are just two of the Extreme Extracted Crude strategies by Big Oil to bring oil to market that would be better left in the ground. An intelligent global cooling plan to save our planet for future generations and all species requires the we leave the oil beneath the soil!.

      Valero has already admitted it can and is bringing Extreme Crude in by barge to the Port of Benicia, thus it does not need the Valero Crude By Rail Project to be profitable. Therefore, it begs the question: Why would we, the people of Benicia, allow this project to proceed when it is just too dangerous?

      Global warming is going to cause significant parts of Benicia to be underwater. Shouldn’t we be working on preventing that, rather than trying find ways to contribute to the problem?

      We are the people of Benicia and our voices need to be heard! The Benicia Planning Commission and the Benicia City Council have a responsibility to listen to us and do what is in the best interests of ALL Benicians. Stop Valero’s Dangerous Crude By rail Project!!!

      Andrés Soto
      Benicia, CA