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Early September downstream news: USA and Canada

Hydrocarbon Engineering,



BP Plc faces the first of approximately 48 000 toxic exposure claims made against the company by neighbours of its Texas refinery.

Local residents say they will give the billions of dollars in punitive damages to charity should they win the trial.

Their claim is that BP intentionally exposed them to cancer causing gases in 2010 without warning. The four plaintiffs in the case are seeking up to US$ 200 000 each in actual damages, plus US$ 10 billion in punitive damages.

According to the residents’ lead attorney, Tony Buzbee, BP knowingly vented at least 500 000 pounds of toxic chemicals, including benzene, from a faulty refinery flare unit that the company knew was incapable of destroying toxins.

‘BP decided there was just too much money to be made at the time, so they decided to flare the emissions and take the consequences’, Buzbee said. He claims the BP would have lost more than US$ 20 million if it had shut the unit down during repairs.

BP spokesman, Scott Dean denies that anyone was injured by emissions from the refinery. ‘Neither the community air monitoring network nor the BP fence line monitors show elevated readings during April and May 2010.’

‘We do not believe that any negative health impacts resulted from flaring at BP’s Texas City refinery during this period’, Dean said in a statement.

Also in Texas, a fire at the Valero Refinery in Port Arthur has affected one of the refinery’s units. However, none have been injured.

The cause of the blaze is not yet clear, nor is it known when the unit will return to operation.


Harvest Energy, the Calgary based company that runs the Come by Chance Oil refinery has been reassured by its parent company that only non-economic assets will be up for sale.

The Korean National Oil Company, which owns Harvest, is considering the sale of its non-economic Canadian assets, including the Come by Chance oil refinery.

Manager of Investor Relations with Harvest, Kari Sawatzki, could not say if Come by Chance is part of these non-economic assets.

Edited from various sources by Emma McAleavey.

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