Tag Archives: Valero Energy Corporation

Santa Barbara Pipeline spill could further hamper California crude-by-rail projects

Repost from Reuters

Pipeline spill could further hamper big California oil projects

By Kristen Hays, May 22, 2015 9:53pm EDT

HOUSTON  –  Hundreds of barrels of oil that gushed from a ruptured coastal pipeline in scenic California this week could stiffen opposition to large oil projects that companies want to build in the state, notably those to deliver cheap U.S. crude on trains.

Several proposed oil-by-rail offloading terminals in California were already being contested in light of several fiery crude train derailments since 2013 that have stoked safety concerns about spills and explosions.

Now, the sight of oil washing up on the shores of Santa Barbara could further galvanize rail opponents after up to 2,500 barrels of crude leaked on Tuesday from a pipeline owned by Plains All American Pipeline LP (PAA.N).

“The more oil we’re moving through the state, the greater the risk of these sorts of accidents,” said Paul Cort, an attorney with EarthJustice, which has sued to stop crude deliveries at Plains’ 70,000 barrels per day (bpd) oil-by-rail terminal in Bakersfield.

Past spills have prompted policy changes. A leak of 100,000 barrels of crude off Santa Barbara in 1969 led to bans on new leases for offshore drilling in California.

The latest spill could complicate regulatory approvals.

“It’s certainly not good news for anyone trying to permit any kind of oil-related facilities in California,” said John Auers, a consultant at Turner, Mason & Co in Dallas.

Refiners Valero Energy Corp (VLO.N) and Phillips 66 (PSX.N) want to use railways to transport cheap crude from onshore fields in North America to northern California refineries to displace more pricey foreign imports.

But the projects, which could help mitigate upward pressure on gasoline prices that are among the highest in the United States, have been repeatedly delayed to allow for lengthy environmental reviews.

Some companies have given up.

Nearly two months ago, WesPac Energy-Pittsburg LLC withdrew the 51,000 bpd oil-by-rail component in a broader proposal that has been awaiting permits from the city for more than two years. WesPac now proposes that crude would move into the terminal only via pipeline or vessel if approved. Valero last year scrapped crude-by-rail plans at its Los Angeles-area refinery.

And even some companies with permits face more hurdles.

EarthJustice is suing local permitting agencies over both the Plains’ Bakersfield operation, which the company aims to expand to 140,000 bpd, and a new Alon USA Energy (ALJ.N) rail project nearby slated for next year.

“People trying to build projects that bring North American crude oil to displace imports at California refineries now have another thing they have to deal with,” said David Hackett, a consultant with Stillwater Associates in Irvine, California.

(Additional reporting by Rory Carroll in San Francisco; Editing by Terry Wade and Grant McCool)
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    Valero logs record high net income in first quarter 2015

    Repost from MySA, San Antonio, TX

    Valero logs record high first quarter

    By Vicki Vaughan : April 28, 2015

    Valero Energy Corp. on Tuesday reported a record high first quarter based on strong performance from its refining segment.

    Valero’s net income from continuing operations rose 16 percent, to $964 million, or $1.87 a share, compared to $829 million, or $1.54 a share, for the same period a year ago.

    The results handily beat analysts’ estimates that the San Antonio-based refiner would earn $1.72 a share.

    “Our team’s solid performance and favorable margins helped us deliver impressive results during a heavy planned-maintenance period in the first quarter,” CEO Joe Gorder said in a statement.

    Valero’s refineries processed more crude oil in the quarter, handling 2.7 million barrels a day, an increase of 9,000 barrels a day in the first quarter of 2014.

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      Sen. Cantwell: Act now on oil trains

      Repost from The Columbian
      [Editor:  Significant quotes: 1) “BNSF Railway…has offered training to local responders. But that training “just scratches the surface,” said Nick Swinhart, chief of the Camas-Washougal Fire Dept.”  And  2) “About 88 percent of the cars now hauling crude oil in Washington are the CPC-1232 design, said BNSF spokesman Gus Melonas. The railroad plans to phase out all of its older DOT-111 cars from moving crude within the next year, he said. It also plans to retrofit its CPC-1232 cars with internal liners during the next three years, he added.”  – RS]

      Cantwell: Act now on oil trains

      Senator pushes for changes to improve safety of hauling crude by rail

      By Eric Florip, April 8, 2015, 9:20 PM
      U.S. Sen. Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., walks past a firefighting rig with Vancouver Fire Department Division Chief Steve Eldred during a visit to Vancouver on Wednesday. Cantwell and local leaders highlighted the risks of crude oil being transported by rail. (Steven Lane/The Columbian)

      Now is the time to act to reduce the continued risk of crude oil moving through the region by rail, U.S. Sen. Maria Cantwell said during a visit to Vancouver on Wednesday.

      The Washington Democrat and local leaders repeatedly stressed the volatility of the oil itself. Speaking inside Pacific Park Fire Station No. 10 in east Vancouver, the group noted that responders are ill-equipped to handle the kind of fiery derailments and huge explosions that have characterized a string of oil-train incidents across the country recently. In some cases, the fires burned for days after the actual derailment, Cantwell said.

      “No amount of foam or fire equipment can put them out,” she said. “The best protection we can offer is prevention.”

      Cantwell last month introduced legislation that would immediately ban the use of rail cars considered unsafe for hauling crude oil, and create new volatility standards for the oil itself. The bill would require federal regulators to develop new rules limiting the volatile gas contained in crude that is transported by rail — an important and somewhat overlooked facet of the larger debate over oil train safety, Cantwell said.

      Much of the oil that now rolls through Clark County comes from the Bakken shale of North Dakota. Regulators there this month imposed new rules on the volatility of that oil, but critics argue they don’t go far enough. North Dakota, currently in the midst of a historic oil boom, lacks the infrastructure and facilities for more thorough oil stabilization that are commonplace elsewhere.

      About two or three oil trains per day now travel through Vancouver on the way to other facilities. A proposal by Tesoro Corp. and Savage Companies to build the nation’s largest oil-by-rail terminal at the Port of Vancouver would more than double that number. The project, now under review, has fixed a spotlight firmly on Vancouver.

      “Although crude-by-rail is a national issue, we firmly believe that Vancouver is the epicenter of the conversation,” said Vancouver Mayor Tim Leavitt.

      Wednesday’s gathering also included two local fire chiefs, who said their crews don’t have the resources to respond to a major disaster involving an oil train. BNSF Railway, which carries crude oil through the Columbia River Gorge and Southwest Washington, has offered training to local responders. But that training “just scratches the surface,” said Nick Swinhart, chief of the Camas-Washougal Fire Department.

      “No first responder is fully prepared for the threat posed by crude oil trains carrying highly volatile oil from North Dakota,” Swinhart said, noting his agency has 54 paid personnel. “The fire resulting from just one exploded oil train car, as you can imagine, would overwhelm our resources very rapidly.”

      Concerns about oil train safety go far beyond the oil. Much of the discussion has centered around the tank cars carrying it. Cantwell’s bill would prohibit all DOT-111 and some CPC-1232 model tank cars from hauling crude oil. The move would affect tens of thousands of rail cars currently in use, phasing out older models many believe are inadequate for carrying crude.

      About 88 percent of the cars now hauling crude oil in Washington are the CPC-1232 design, said BNSF spokesman Gus Melonas. The railroad plans to phase out all of its older DOT-111 cars from moving crude within the next year, he said. It also plans to retrofit its CPC-1232 cars with internal liners during the next three years, he added.

      BNSF expects tank cars to improve as designs evolve and federal rules change, Melonas said, and the company welcomes that trend.

      “We are in favor of a stronger-designed tank car to move this product,” Melonas said. “In the meantime, we’re taking steps to make sure we’re moving it safely.”

      As for whether BNSF supports Cantwell’s bill, Melonas said the company is still evaluating it.

      Near the end of Wednesday’s event at the fire station, officials showed Cantwell a large rig equipped with foam tanks and other features. The Vancouver Fire Department acquired the vehicle as mitigation several years ago when Valero, a company operating at the Port of Vancouver, began handling methanol, said Division Chief Steve Eldred.

      The Valero site later became NuStar Energy. NuStar has since applied for permits to handle crude oil at the same facility.

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