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Chexpress - September 11, 2012

North America

Refinery Accident

Utah environmental regulators are awaiting test results related to the recent explosion that sprayed crude oil over neighbors of the Holly refinery in Woods Cross. Regulators and residents say Holly Frontier Corp. has responded swiftly to the explosion, which occurred when a seam ruptured on a heated crude oil storage tank. Some 8,000 gallons of oil spattered over more than a mile from the plant onto cars, homes, yards and anything else in its path.

Crude by Rail

Delta Airlines is looking at ways to bring less expensive crude from the Bakken formation in North Dakota to its newly purchased refinery in Pennsylvania. The company is working with railroads to find a way to take advantage of the price difference between different types of crude.

Alberta Carbon Capture Project

Royal Dutch Shell PLC’s Canadian unit will proceed with the proposed Quest carbon capture and storage project, the first such commercial-scale project to tackle carbon emissions in the Alberta oil sands. Shell said the project will be built on behalf of the Athabasca Oil Sands Project joint-venture owners, including Chevron Canada Ltd. and Marathon Oil Canada Corp. Shell Canada owns 60% of the joint venture, with the other two partners each holding 20%. The Athabasca joint venture produces bitumen, which is piped to Shell’s Scotford Ugrade near Edmonton, Alberta. Starting in late 2015, Quest will capture and store deep underground more than 1 million metric tons/year of carbon dioxide produced during the bitumen processing, reducing direct emissions from the upgrader by up to 35%.

Biofuels Evaluation

Researchers at the Naval Postgraduate School (NPS) are applying their experience in combustion to help the U.S. Navy meet one of the Secretary of the Navy’s goals for the future. In 2009, the Secretary announced a number of energy initiatives for the Navy, including a 50% reduction in petroleum-based fuel consumption in the fleet by 2020. Researchers at NPS are working to help the Navy understand how alternative fuels will perform in existing gas turbine and diesel engines. The goal is to seamlessly transition to the biofuel blends without having to change any engine components. 50/50 blends, incorporating half of the petroleum-based fuels currently being used, and half of either algae or camelina fuels, are being tested.



Refinery to Terminal Conversion

Valero Energy Corporation will further reduce operations at its Aruba Refinery and reorganize the site as a refined products terminal. The terminal will have both deepwater berths and smaller berths, giving it the flexibility to load the very largest crude ships. The scale and mixture of tankage will permit commercially attractive storage opportunities for customers. Valero suspended refining operations at the facility in March 2012, but had maintained the refinery in a state that would allow a restart. In the near term, it will continue to maintain the refinery in this state should a prospective buyer step forward. Operating as a terminal, the facility will continue to supply jet fuel, gasoline, diesel and fuel oil on Aruba. In addition, Valero will engage in third-party terminal services.

Offshore Wind Farm

The Moray Offshore Renewables Ltd. plan to build the world’s largest offshore wind farm off the Scottish coast, with 339 turbines sited in the Moray Firth, has been unveiled. The proposal is significantly larger than a previous scheme that included 200 turbines. Developers say the £4.5 billion project, 13 miles off Caithness, could create hundreds of jobs and provide electricity for a million homes. It would also be a major boost to the Scottish Government’s target of generating 100% of the country’s electricity demand from renewables by the end of the decade. Critics say the turbines, some reaching 670 feet above sea level, would be a blog on the landscape. If approved, work would start in 2015 with completion by 2020.

100 New Outlets

Chevron Malaysia Ltd., which operates petrol service stations under the Caltex brand, aims to open 100 new Caltex stations in Malaysia to achieve its target of 522 petrol stations by 2015. The company is on the lookout for local entrepreneurs to establish, own and operate the stations, especially small and medium enterprises. Chevron will act as a mentor or consultant to provide all the guidance and assistance need by entrepreneurs to succeed in the businesses. Entrepreneurs will also have the opportunity to setup fast-food restaurants, convenience store marts, workshops and car wash services at the stations.

Refinery Closure

Cosmo Oil Co. will permanently close the 140,000 barrel/day Sakaide refinery in western Japan by July 2013 to meet a government regulation that encourages refining capacity cuts amid falling local demand. The Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry set rules in July 2010 requiring refiners to raise residual cracking capacity, as calculated by a formula, by March 2014. By closing the refinery, Cosmo expects to save Y10 billion a year in costs.   


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