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Report: Shell’s Martinez refinery could be sold

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By Sam Richards , [email protected]

Screen Shot 2016-05-21 at 10.18.28MARTINEZ — Two published reports Friday say the Shell Martinez Refinery is up for sale, prompted by what are expected to be crude oil prices rising faster than gas prices at the pump.

The reports, one of them from the international news agency Reuters, say the Netherlands-based global energy company Royal Dutch Shell is looking to shed some of its smaller, less profitable refineries ahead of the anticipated price hike for crude.

The Reuters story said Shell and at least three other major oil companies, including San Ramon-based Chevron, have seen dropping profit margins from their refining operations since a peak in 2015 and want to shed some lower-profit operations before crude oil prices rise much further from recent low levels.

Shell spokeswoman Ann Notarangelo in Martinez referred questions about a possible sale to spokesman Ray Fisher in Houston. In an email, Fisher said Shell does not comment “on rumor or speculation associated with the status of current or potential commercial actions or agreements,” including the future of individual company properties.

Jack Bean, executive director of the Industrial Association of Contra Costa County, a Pleasant Hill-based public policy advocacy group, said Friday he was surprised to learn of a possible sale.

If there is a sale, operations at the Martinez refinery — which celebrated its 100th birthday last year — likely wouldn’t change much, Bean said.

“It would probably be sold to another existing refinery operator — hopefully an American company — and would probably continue its normal operations,” Bean said.

The Shell Martinez Refinery, its boundaries partly within city limits and partly outside of them, produces gasoline, jet fuel, diesel fuel, petroleum coke, industrial fuel oils, liquefied petroleum gas, asphalt and sulfur. Approximately 700 people work there. It’s one of five Bay Area refineries; the others are the Chevron Richmond Refinery; Tesoro’s Golden Eagle Refinery in Avon; Valero’s Benicia Refinery; and Phillips 66’s San Francisco Refinery in Rodeo.

The Reuters story also said Chevron confirmed it is gauging interest in its Burnaby, British Columbia refinery.

Contact Sam Richards at 925-943-8241. Follow him at

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