Category Archives: Valero Benicia Refinery

Two Petroleum Coke train cars derail in Benicia

Repost from The Benicia Herald
[Editor: Question: was the petcoke dust in these cars open to the wind when they derailed here in Benicia last Saturday?  What happens to the petcoke when one of these cars jostles up and then bangs down off the rails?  Anyone have a photo?  ANSWER TO THESE QUESTIONS FROM A LOCAL OBSERVER: “The cars that Valero uses to transport petcoke are ‘Hopper Cars’. They are closed top. They are not open gondala cars.  No, the product was not open to the wind.  They are completely covered and have a top fill with a door and 3 or 4 bottom discharge slide gates.”  – RS]

2 UP trains [sic] derail near Benicia refinery; no injuries or spills

May 19, 2014, The Benicia Herald

Two Union Pacific train cars came off the rails about 5:25 p.m. Saturday, Mark Davis, UP director of corporate relations and media, said Monday.

The train serves Valero Benicia Refinery, Davis said. The derailment happened near there.

“There was no petroleum coke spill,” said Sue Fisher Jones, the refinery’s public affairs manager.

Davis concurred. “There were no injuries or spills,” he said.

“Both hopper cars were loaded with coke and derailed upright with all wheels off the rail,” he said, describing the incident.

“The cars were placed back on the track Sunday morning, and the cause of the derailment is under investigation,” Davis said.

    Martinez to Benicia: Oil Refinery Protest Draws About 100 Demonstrators

    Repost from the East Bay Express
    [Editor: Many thanks to the East Bay Express for excellent coverage of this colorful and important event (below).  Benicia old timers were heard to say that sleepy little Benicia has probably NEVER seen a protest demonstration like this.  Check out two facebook pages for great photos of the day: AND  – RS]

    East Bay Oil Refinery Protest Draws About 100 Demonstrators

    Jean Tepperman —  Mon, May 19, 2014

    Accompanied by a four-kayak flotilla and a fifth-generation Martinez resident on horseback, about one hundred environmental activists marched seven miles from Martinez to Benicia on Saturday to protest the local toxic pollution and global climate impact of Bay Area oil refineries. The march was spearheaded by a Bay Area group affiliated with Idle No More, an organization of Canadian First Nations people fighting development of the tar sands oil fields in Alberta and other environmentally destructive projects on their traditional lands.


    Kelly Johnson

    Specific targets of the protest were proposed expansion projects at the Chevron (Richmond), Valero (Benicia), and Phillips 66 (Rodeo) refineries, a crude oil transportation terminal in Pittsburg planned by energy infrastructure company WesPac, and the major investment of Shell (Martinez) in the Canadian tar sands mines. The Saturday march was the second of four planned Refinery Corridor Healing Walks — the first, from Pittsburg to Martinez, was held in April, and future walks are planned for June and July, ending up at Chevron in Richmond. The series of walks aims to “connect the dots” to “bring awareness to the refinery communities, invite community members to get to know one another, and to show support for a just transition beyond fossil fuels,” according to the group’s website.

    At a gathering at the Martinez Regional Shoreline before the march, a winner of this year’s Goldman environmental prize, South African Desmond D’Sa, described the high rates of leukemia, cancer, and asthma in his home town of Durban and the community’s struggles against Shell Oil there, urging the crowd to “fight them (refineries) wherever they are.” Penny Opal Plant, of the East Bay Idle No More group, said she only recently began to conceive of the refinery corridor as a total area suffering from the “immense devastation” caused by oil refineries.

    Richmond residents have long protested pollution from Chevron, most recently the toxic explosion that sent 15,000 seeking medical treatment in August 2012. Benicia residents have also organized to oppose environmental hazards. In the last year, local groups have also formed in Pittsburg, Crockett-Rodeo, and Martinez to protest refinery expansion and transportation plans, including major increases in the amount of crude oil to be carried by rail through the Bay Area and beyond.

    Describing the dangers of mining, refining, and transporting oil, and looking ahead to a future free from fossil fuel, Opal Plant said, “We are Mother Earth’s immune response awakening. We’re born at this time to do this thing.”


    Kelly Johnson

    The group’s route first went through the Shell refinery, then over the bridge to Benicia, with a view of the Valero refinery there. From a hilltop vista point next to Carquinez Strait, Benicia activist Marilyn Bardet pointed out refineries and planned oil industry project sites, as well as the environmentally Suisun Marsh. Railroad tracks leading to the Valero refinery, she said, go right through the marsh. A spill of tar sands crude oil, she added, would be impossible to clean up because the oil is so heavy it would sink and cause irreparable damage.

    The next Refinery Corridor Healing walk is scheduled to go from Benicia to the Phillips 66 refinery in Rodeo on June 14.

      Mexico’s Pemex now shipping light crude to U.S. West Coast, including Valero Benicia

      Repost from Reuters

      Mexico’s Pemex quietly resumes light crude sales to U.S. West Coast

      May 18, 2014

      May 18 (Reuters) – Mexico’s Pemex has quietly begun shipping light Isthmus crude to a variety of West Coast refiners this year, according to U.S. and Reuters data, resuming such sales after a six-year hiatus.

      The state-run oil company, which exported only about 100,000 barrels per day (bpd) of Isthmus last year, shipped about 340,000 barrels of the crude to Valero Energy Corp at Benicia, California, in January and February, according to U.S. government data.

      It sent another 350,000 barrels (48,000 tonnes) to Tesoro Corp in San Francisco in March, according to Eikon’s trade flow database based on PIERS data. Pemex then exported another 150,000 barrels to Shell Trading at Anacortes, Washington, in May from the Salina Cruz terminal.

      Isthmus is typically shipped to Gulf Coast and East Coast ports including Beaumont and Corpus Christi, Texas and Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

      The move is the latest in a series of new export contracts that Pemex has announced, aimed at diversifying the company’s base of clients. Pemex said it began shipping Olmeca crude to Europe in January, and last month said it started shipments of Isthmus to Hawaii.

      A sweeping energy overhaul in Mexico passed late last year and pushed by President Enrique Peña Nieto seeks to inject competition into a sector dominated for decades by Pemex and to boost domestic crude output, which has fallen by a quarter since 2004 to about 2.5 million bpd.

      Over the same period, the country’s oil export volumes have dropped by a third.

      The light, sweet grade of Isthmus crude oil with 33.6 API degrees is mainly produced in the southern Gulf of Mexico’s Campeche zone with a principal loading port at Pajaritos.

      Pemex had halted exports of Maya crude to the U.S. West Coast in 2008.

      The Mexican oil giant exported a total of 1.2 million bpd of crude oil last year.

      Pemex normally supplies Exxon Mobil Corp one monthly cargo of 500,000 barrels in Houston. Pemex also delivers Total Petrochemicals at Port Arthur, Texas, 150,000 barrels of Isthmus monthly.

      Citgo Petroleum, PBF Holding, Atlantic Trading, Chevron and Shell also buy varying sized cargoes of Isthmus occasionally.

      (Reporting by David Alire Garcia in Mexico and Marianna Parraga in Houston; editing by Jessica Resnick-Ault and G Crosse)