Dangerous oil trains moving along Texas gulf coastline – 30,000 barrels per day
Crude Summit: Valero grows Mexico rail flows
By Sergio Meana & Elliot Blackburn, Argus Media, 04 February 2020
Valero increased the volume of refined products sent by rail to Mexico last year to roughly 30,000 b/d, up from about 2,000 b/d just two years ago, chief executive Joe Gorder said today.
The US independent refiner reached into the recently-opened Mexican market through a combination of joint ventures with local partners and building out its own storage infrastructure, Gorder said during the Argus Americas Crude Summit in Houston, Texas. Valero railed gasoline and diesel from its Texas refineries, including four along the coast and its landlocked 200,000 b/d McKee refinery in the Texas Panhandle.
The company has six fuel storage agreements that give the company 5.8mn bl of storage capacity in Mexico, but fuel pipeline capacity is still constrained in the country and mostly only used by state-owned Pemex.
“We invested in some terminal assets,” Gorder said. “We have got joint ventures around several, and we are actually railing a lot of barrels into Mexico rather than waiting for the pipeline infrastructure to be built.”
Franchisees opened the first Valero-branded retail fuel station in Mexico last week, Gorder said, with two more now opened since. Valero in Mexico said it plans to open 15 retail fuel stations in the next three months.
For Gorder the US Gulf coast is the most efficient refined product center as it has an able and affordable workforce, access to feedstocks and multiple transportation options.
“We have got all the advantages to be a supplier to the world,” Gorder said. “It is going to be some time before [Mexico] will be able to satisfy their own demands if ever. And so it is a logical, natural market for us.”
Valero exported 343,000 b/d of fuels in 2019 to all markets.
By Catherine Ngai and Liz Hampton | NEW YORK/HOUSTON, Aug 12, 2016 12:46pm EDT
It may seem odd that the opening of one pipeline crossing through four U.S. Midwest states could upend the movement of oil throughout the country, but the Dakota Access line may do just that.
At the moment, crude oil moving out of North Dakota’s prolific Bakken shale to “refinery row” in the U.S. Gulf must travel a circuitous route through the Rocky Mountains or the Midwest and into Oklahoma, before heading south to the Gulf of Mexico.
The 450,000 barrel-per-day Dakota Access line, when it opens in the fourth quarter, will change that by providing U.S. Gulf refiners another option for crude supply.
Gulf Coast refiners and North Dakota oil producers will reap the benefits. Losers will include the struggling oil-by-rail industry which now brings crude to the coasts.
The pipeline also will create headaches for East and West Coast refiners, which serve the most heavily populated parts of the United States and consume a combined 4.1 million barrels of crude daily. They will have to rely more on foreign imports.
The pipeline, currently under construction, will connect western North Dakota to the Energy Transfer Crude Oil Pipeline Project (ETCOP) in Patoka, Illinois. From there, it will connect to the Nederland and Port Arthur, Texas, area, where refiners including Valero Energy, Total and Motiva Enterprises operate some of the largest U.S. refining facilities.
“That’s a better and cheaper path than going out West and down through the Rockies,” said Bernadette Johnson, managing partner at Ponderosa Advisors LLC, an energy advisory based in Denver.
CHEAPER THAN RAIL
Moving crude by pipeline is generally cheaper than using railcars. The flagging U.S. crude-by-rail industry already is moving only half as much oil as it did two years ago: volumes peaked at 944,000 bpd in October 2014, but were around just 400,000 bpd in May, according to the U.S. Energy Department.
Rail transport has become less economical for East and West Coast refiners when compared with importing Brent crude, the foreign benchmark, because declining supply out of North Dakota made that grade of oil less affordable.
“If you look at the Brent to Bakken arb, it’s tight,” said Afolabi Ogunnaike, a senior refining analyst at Wood Mackenzie in Houston. “If you look at the spot rate, it’s uneconomical to move crude by rail right now.”
Ponderosa Advisors estimated that the start-up of the pipeline could reroute an additional 150,000 to 200,000 bpd currently carried by rail to the U.S. East Coast and Gulf Coast.
Crude imports into the East Coast are now on the rise, averaging 788,000 bpd this year, with nearly 960,000 bpd in July, the highest level in three years, according to Thomson Reuters data.
On the West Coast, refiners like Shell, Tesoro and BP may have to commit to some railed volumes for longer because of shipping constraints, although it will largely depend on rail economics. They also face declining output from California and Alaska.
Tesoro’s top executive Gregory Goff told analysts and investors last week he expects rail costs to drop as much as 40 percent from the current $9-to-$10 barrel cost to compete with pipelines, in order to move Bakken to its Anacortes, Washington, refinery.
Rail companies have been trying to adapt. CSX Corp, which runs a network of lines in the eastern part of the country, said it was evaluating potential impacts of the pipeline. BNSF Railway declined to discuss future freight movements, but said that at its peak, it transported as many as 12 trains daily filled with crude, primarily from the Bakken. Today, it is moving less than half of that.
In a recent earnings call, midstream player Crestwood Equity Partners said it was working to capitalize on the pipeline and not be dependent on loading crude barrels onto trains. That includes building an interconnection to its 160,000 barrel-per-day COLT crude rail facility in North Dakota.
As refiners bring in more barrels from overseas, Brent’s premium over U.S. crude will eventually widen. On Thursday, December Brent futures settled at a 97-cent premium to U.S. crude, one of its widest premiums this year.
Separately, Bakken crude, a light barrel, could rise further due to the additional competition, especially as production is still falling. Bakken differentials hit a six-month low earlier this week of $2.65 a barrel below WTI, according to Reuters data, but rose to a $1.80 a barrel discount by Thursday.
(Reporting by Catherine Ngai in New York and Liz Hampton in Houston; Editing by David Gregorio)
Valero’s self-proclaimed “Good Neighbor” status is laughable when you begin to peel back the onion and remove the layers of misinformation (or missing information) and reveal the same flavor of corporate propaganda and fearmongering that is used to hold small communities hostage.
There are hidden costs to having Valero as a neighbor that you may not be aware of.
Valero says the City of Benicia is losing more than $360K per year in revenue because of delays in approving their crude by rail project, which could get us 4 new police officers.
Valero DOESN’T say…
CEQA (California Environmental Quality Act) is a law that requires due diligence to properly evaluate environmental impacts and most importantly, inform the public of those impacts. City staff initially attempted to push this project through, under the radar, and without LITTLE public notification – skirting the law. Had it not been for a group of alert citizens bringing this to the public’s attention Valero would have gotten away with implementing a project that would have enormous ramifications to our health, safety, and economic viability, not only in our community, but every community along the rails.
Our personal safety is NOT at risk because we are short on police officers, it’s at risk because transporting highly volatile crude oil by rail is extremely risky business. More than 17 major oil train accidents have occurred in the last 24 months resulting in explosions, spills, and derailments.
Valero says they contribute 25% to Benicia’s general fund.
Valero DOESN’T say…
That number is actually 20% AND it doesn’t reflect the millions that Valero has taken away from the city’s coffers in recent years.
The City of Benicia was forced to pay Valero $2.3 million because Valero filed an appeal for a reduction in its property value from $1.02 billion to $230 million and $964 million to $100 million in 2012 and 2013 respectively despite climbing profits and gas prices since 2010. Benicia loses $2.3 million AND any on-going revenue generated from Valero’s property taxes. How many police officers do you think $2.3 million get us?
Valero says the crude by rail project will reduce air emissions and decrease greenhouse gases. In addition, they say they are entitled to $57million in emission reduction credits because of improvements made to the refinery.
Valero DOESN’T say…
The recirculated EIR for their crude by rail project specifically states that there will be significant increases in air emissions and greenhouse gases.
Valero has received dozens of notices of emissions violations nearly every single month of 2014 and 2015 including a violation for Benzene.
Valero has failed to install any publically accessible emissions monitoring equipment despite their pledge to do so since 2008.
Emission reduction credits would allow Valero to increase their emissions for new projects, sell or trade their credits to other polluters. Because of Cap and Trade legislation, big polluters in our own backyards get to pollute even more.
According to the EPA, Valero is the biggest polluter in Solano County, contributing 82% of all toxic releases in 2013. Data for 2014 and 15 is not available.
Valero is desperate to turn a profit and will use whatever means is necessary – squeeze money from the city coffers, pollute our environment, and put our lives at risk – to satisfy the short-term interests of their shareholders. They even threaten to lay people off or sell the refinery if the city doesn’t comply.
We can’t let one business keep our community in such an economically vulnerable situation. The City of Benicia has adopted a Climate Action Plan, but can’t seem to address THE REAL CLIMATE ELEPHANT IN THE ROOM, which is Valero. It’s time that serious action be taken to seek out and invite other, more sustainable industries to our city because Valero is NOT a Good Neighbor!
Valero will soon have fifth refinery processing 100 percent North American crude
By Sergio Chapa, Sep 11, 2015, 6:44pm CDT
San Antonio-based Valero Energy Corp. is expected to have its fifth refinery capable of processing nothing but North American crude by the end of the year.
Valero (NYSE: VLO) revealed in an investors’ presentation released earlier this week that its Jean Gaulin Refinery in Quebec will be processing 100 percent North American crude oil by the end of the year.
Company figures show that the refinery was 100 percent dependent on foreign crude oil in first quarter 2013, but production from the tar sands region of Canada and the shale plays of the United States has dramatically changed the situation.
The Jean Gaulin Refinery is processing about 80 percent North American-sourced crude oil but will be at 100 percent once a project to modify the Enbridge Line 9B Pipeline is completed in the fourth quarter. The project will reverse the flow of the pipeline to enable oil from the tar sands region of Alberta to flow east to Valero’s refinery in Quebec.
Most refineries were built decades ago and were configured to process to Middle Eastern oil, but Valero spokesman Bill Day told the San Antonio Business Journal that the Jean Gaulin Refinery is lined up to be the fifth of the company’s refinery capable of processing 100 percent North American crude oil.
Day said Valero’s Ardmore, McKee, Memphis and Three Rivers refineries can already process 100 percent North American crude oil, while other plants are processing an increasing amount of North American crude.
The investors presentation shows that Valero is expanding its capacity to process a total of 185,000 barrels per day of light sweet crude from the Eagle Ford and other shale plays at the company’s McKee, Houston and Corpus Christi refineries in Texas.
Day said that the addition of the Keystone XL Pipeline would enable Valero to replace foreign heavy crude with heavy crude from Canada. He also noted that a proposed rail terminal at the company’s Benicia refinery in California, would enable Valero to offset foreign crude brought in by ship with North American crude brought in by rail.