January 21, 2010 at 12:04 pm #2791
<Ah – the sound lemmings marching off a cliff? First Chevron, then COP and now Valero – course they have been on collison course with cutbacks since their refineries went on the block. We have all seen these cycles before & within 2-5 years they will be back in growth mode -Comments C Randall >
January 21, 2010 Argus
Valero restructuring, trimming wholesale marketing
US independent refiner Valero restructured its wholesale marketing operation at its San Antonio, Texas, headquarters this month and eliminated a few jobs as part of a broader streamlining effort, the company said.
We have had a restructuring in our wholesale marketing group and it resulted in a small number of jobs being eliminated mostly at the management level, Valero spokesman Bill Day said.
The restructuring will affect fewer than 10 jobs and customers should not notice any operational differences, Day said. If anything, it should be more efficient and will be more responsive, he added.
The wholesale marketing department is tasked with selling refined products made at Valeros refineries and with supplying the companys branded stations.
Valero has restructured its retail and refining operations, and it has shut down refineries in Aruba and Delaware City, Delaware, amid a weak economy and poor refining margins. The company is trying to sell its Paulsboro, New Jersey, refinery, which continues to operate.
Valero, the largest independent refiner in the US, is not alone. Both its fellow independents and the major integrated oil companies are idling refineries or trying to exit the operations because of poor demand for oil products. This week, US oil major Chevron was the latest refiner to announce that it was planning to shrink its refining segment and that it was evaluating what markets to abandon.
Weve been doing this for several months, Day said. Its because of the economy. Its because of the margin environment. Its a desire for Valero to strengthen its balance sheet and reduce its cost. I imagine other companies are starting to realize the same thing.
January 27, 2010 at 10:26 pm #5805
Wednesday, January 27, 2010
Valero: Aruba Refinery Would Not Be Profitable Running Today
By Naureen S. Malik Of DOW JONES NEWSWIRES
NEW YORK -(Dow Jones)- Valero Energy Corp. is vying to sell off troubled refineries this year while looking for attractive deals to purchase additional oil and ethanol plants, executives said in a conference call with analysts Wednesday.
Valero is trying to sell its idle Aruba refinery that it admits wouldn’t be profitable if it was running today and may be able to sell its Paulsboro, N.J., refinery instead of shutting it down, executives said.
The company is pursuing a separate process for selling Paulsboro than its Delaware City, Del., refinery, which ceased operations in the fourth quarter. Last week, the company said it is negotiating the sale of Delaware City assets to an investment group headed by the plant’s former owner, Thomas O’Malley, former chief executive of Petroplus. During the conference call, executives said that they are in talks with “interested parties” for Paulsboro.
Valero pegged the book value of the Aruba refinery, which it has been trying to sell for more than a year, at $1 billion, versus $1.3 billion for Paulsboro. The Delaware City assets are valued at around $150 million. Paulsboro has the capacity to process 185,000 barrels a day and the Aruba plant’s capacity is 235,000 barrels a day. Prior to its closure, Delaware City could process 210,000 barrels.
During the bull market for commodities, these plants were raking in big profits for Valero thanks to their ability to process heavy, sour crude oil. This tougher-to-process crude traded at a wide discount to light, sweet blends of crude. However, that difference narrowed sharply during the economic downturn and those refineries started bleeding cash.
Caris & Co. analyst Ann Kohler estimates that shutting Delaware City, which was losing about $1 million a day and required $200 million in maintenance work, resulted in $1 billion in averted costs.
Tough conditions persisted for the entire U.S. refining industry, which has been plagued by inventory gluts and weak demand while oil prices more than doubled in 2009. The East Coast market is also a relatively more competitive market than the rest of the U.S. because it is well-supplied and competes against imports.
Meanwhile, Valero has been having trouble finding a buyer for the Aruba refinery. It has also been involved in a tax dispute, which the company reiterated will be settled upon final approval from the government.
“What’s happening in 2010 as far as tax structure is not that important,” Valero Chief Executive Bill Klesse said in the conference call with analysts. The tax agreement with Aruba’s government spans 20 years, so that gives the company options as it looks for a buyer, he added.
Valero has placed more than $200 million of cash in an escrow account while the dispute was in arbitration. Once the government approves the settlement, Valero will pay about $112 million in taxes and a minimum tax payment of $10 million a year as long as the company owns the refinery. Valero will continue to keep the plant’s employees on the payroll until at least June 1, 2010. However, it is unlikely that the company will restart the refinery after executives said that it wouldn’t be profitable if it was operating today.
Valero also released an updated refinery turnaround schedule to improve operations at four other refineries.
As the company seeks to sell off troubled assets and improve operations at existing facilities, Klesse said he’s keeping an eye on deals to purchase additional refineries in Europe and North America. The company may also consider buying more ethanol plants.
“We are very pleased with the ethanol business,” as a lucrative bolt-on strategy to the core oil refining operations, Klesse said. Ethanol operating income rose to $94 million in the fourth quarter from $49 million the prior quarter. The company announced acquisitions for ten ethanol plants in 2009, of which three are expected close in early 2010.
In the near-term, Valero said throughput at its oil refineries should average around 2.06 million-2.14 million barrels a day, versus 2.1 million barrels a day in the fourth quarter. Exports are expected to be lower due to lower demand from Europe that is being partly offset by greater shipments to Latin American countries such as Peru.
Valero has 14 refineries with the capacity to process 2.8 million barrels of crude oil a day.
January 27, 2010 at 10:28 pm #5804
Here is update on Valero’s troubled refinery sales – not best sales strategy to lead with comment that Aruba wouldn’t be profitable today (very few refineries anywhere are able to avoid those strage economics for this strange period of time).
And as long as these three previously profitable refineries remain down – or are sold off, Valero drops out of its Global 8th ranking to 12th just below Chevron at 11th. The loss of the 630 MBD capacity from its 3 refineries would put it below CNPC, Saudi Aramco & Petrobras.
Selling large complex gulf/coastal refineries at the extreme bottom of the market and located in captive US market that has ~no grassroots option due to environmental block the government allows to drive the EPA despite supply needs of US, and then purchase ethanol plants doesn’t seem like solid economics.
Since a number of US ethanol producers have gone bankrupt because of the reduced government subsidy and lack of demand plus the shortfall of US supply due lower corn production & weather impacts. These issue have also allowed the public time to discover that the 7% Ethanol has been costing them the loss of 3-5MPG/gallon of blended gasoline! Some states during summer 2008 & 2009 were selling gasoline without ethanol and had the issue become very noticeable.
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