Torrance Refinery, California, United States of America
The Torrance refinery, located in Torrance, California, is operated by ExxonMobil. The refinery covers an area of around 750 acres. It produces 1.8 billion gallons of petrol per year and its aggregate output represents around 10% of petrol refined in California. Its daily average processing capacity is 150,000 barrels of crude oil.
The crude oil to be refined comes from San Joaquin Valley, California. Over 70% of crude is refined into high quality, mainly formulated, low emission petrol for sale in Southern California, Arizona and Nevada. In addition to petrol, jet fuel, diesel fuel, liquefied petroleum gases (LPG), coke and sulphur are also produced at refinery.
ExxonMobil has paid several penalties related to environmental violations at the refinery. The operator had to pay around $400,000 for violations of the Environmental Protection Agency's norms at the refinery in 2007.
The company paid a civil penalty of around $250,000 and agreed to spend around $200,000 for controlling carbon dioxide and other emissions due to operations in 2007. From October 2005 to October 2006, the company paid $150,000 because of violation of various air permits and air quality norms at the refinery.
A sulphur recovery unit at the refinery failed in March 2007, leading to a shut-down of equipment and process units. Major maintenance work is currently being carried out.
Torrance refinery infrastructure
The refinery is equipped with pipelines, terminals, a hydrotreater, a sulphur recovery plant and a fluid catalytic cracking (FCC) unit.
The refinery began operations in 1929 and was developed for providing fuel to ships in the Los Angeles harbour with discovered crude oil from the San Joaquin Valley. Further, pipelines were introduced. The hydrotreater was installed to reduce emissions and produce cleaner fuels. A modified hydrofluoric acid, a chemical required for processing, was introduced during 1990s.
The energy conservation equipment and sulphur recovery plant were installed in 1974. A pollution control device over fluid catalytic cracking unit was installed in 2000 to enhance reduction of emissions.
Developments at Torrance
The Torrance refinery was modernised significantly in 1965 and in March 2010 ExxonMobil began a major maintenance programme. Key processing units such as the FCC, hydrotreater, the Alkylation unit and sulphur units have been shut down temporarily while the maintenance programme is carried out. This will involve activities to inspect, upgrade, clean and carry out substantial maintenance for equipment.
Around 750 employees and more than 1,400 contractors will be engaged to carry out the maintenance work. To ensure secure and efficient operations at the refinery a flare system will be installed.
Materials from the refining process are normally collected and routed to oil recovery tanks for further processing. There, they are converted into products such as petrol and jet fuel.
During maintenance, excess materials will be routed to the refinery flare system. Materials will be combined with steam and burned. The flaring system ensures a reduction in emissions and optimum combustion of hydrocarbons. The emission from the flaring system is regulated by South Coast Air Quality Management District.
Torrance-LA International Airport pipeline
The Torrance refinery is connected to Los Angeles International Airport via a pipeline. The crude, among the thickest crude oil, is heated and mixed with additive known as cutter before being sent to the refinery via an M-70 pipeline, which was replaced in 1993. The finished products are transferred from the refinery to the terminals via separate pipelines.
The contract to provide solutions for Asset Certainty was awarded to INOVx Solutions in July 2008. The scope of work includes five additional process units along with the fluid catalytic cracker unit at refinery.
The follow-on alliance contract to provide continued engineering services for the refinery was given to Jacob Engineering in 2000. Jacob Engineering has provided engineering, design and support services for the refinery as per the contract signed in June 1995.
Later, the engineering, design and procurement contract for the Modified HF (hydrofluoric) Alkylation Unit Project at the refinery was also awarded to Jacobs Engineering Group in September 1995.
The project and construction services to the refinery team, provided by Faithful+Gould, began in 1997.