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Late May downstream news update: USA and South America

Hydrocarbon Engineering,



A divided City Council on Tuesday voted to enter talks with Chevron Corp. for a compensation package stemming from last summer's fire at the company's local refinery.

City Manager, Bill Lindsay, released a document earlier this month announcing the city's intent to hire San Francisco based law firm Cotchett, Pitre & McCarthy, which represented victims of the 2010 San Bruno disaster caused by a Pacific Gas & Electric Co. gas line rupture. The firm remains in litigation stemming from the San Bruno fire and has handled more than 200 cases for clients seeking damages.

The council stopped short of hiring the firm immediately. However, a council motion calls for automatically retaining Cotchett, Pitre & McCarthy in 30 days if the city does not reach a compensation agreement with Chevron. 


Citizens of Detroit are concerned by a three story pile of petroleum coke that covers an entire city block, which continues to grow in size each day along the bank of the Detroit River. The coke, which is an unwanted by product of refining Canada’s tar sands, is produced by a refinery owned by Marathon petroleum.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has stopped issuing licenses to burn petroleum coke in the US due to its high sulfur and carbon content. However, Koch Carbon have found a market for the waste in less environmentally scrupulous countries, and have purchased the pile.


The EPA has fined a southeast Kansas refinery US$ 300 000 for deficiencies in their program to curb air pollution. The Coffeyville refinery is allegedly in violation of the Clean Air Act; its risk management program does not meet current standards.


A North Texas company, Worldwide Energy Consortium Inc., has announced plans to build a 10 000 bpd refinery in La Salle county in the Eagle Ford Shale. The plant, which will refine oil from the shale and sell its fuels in the area, is expected to be in operation by late next year.


US Senator Al Franken and Chairman of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, Ron Wyden, have pressed US Energy Secretary, Ernest Moniz, to act quickly in addressing recent gasoline price spikes in Minnesota, and across the country.

In a letter to Moniz, the Senators urged the Department of Energy (DoE) to take steps in order to combat rising prices. Specifically, they have indicated that the DoE must seek to prevent simultaneous maintenance shutdowns of several regional refineries; record price spikes in Minnesota have been attributed to routine refinery shutdowns.

South America


Mexican state oil monopoly, Pemex, is planning a US$ 4 billion expansion to its largest refinery, in Salinas Cruz. The planned expansion will boost capacity by 30 000 bpd (9%).

Edited from various sources by Emma McAleavey.

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