This is “The End” for any hope of gasoline prices on the West Coast, specifically Southern California, before Memorial Day.  Today’s AAA Fuel Gauge for Los Angeles-Long Beach showed the average gasoline price already over $4 per gallon. The two major oil company refinery upsets in Southern California this afternoon will result in spike for gasoline prices starting on Monday with retail pump prices expected to hit $4.25 per gallon. The remainder of the West Coast including the Bay Area and the Pacific Northwest gasoline prices will follow suit.

Los Angeles-Long Beach Regular
Current $4.022
Yesterday $3.996
Week Ago $3.895
Month Ago $4.043
Year Ago $4.233

The CononoPhillips 76 refinery in Wilmington reported flaring this afternoon.  Then the kicker came in the form  of the ExxonMobiil refinery suffering a “power bump” putting their Fluid Catalytic Cracker (FCC) unit out of business.

Because of it the ExxonMobill was flaring Friday afternoon at its 149,000 b/d refinery in Torrance, Calif., with the shut down of  their FCC unit, which had been kept running while other units in the refinery were going through a planned turnaround.  Now all of the units at this refinery are down.

The FCC is out of service and the refinery is flaring,

The refinery issued an unplanned flaring notification to the South Coast Air Quality Management this afternoon citing a breakdown. The flaring event began at 2 p.m. PDT and is expected to end before midnight.

ExxonMobil began a large-scale, multi-week turnaround May 3 on Torrance’s lone crude unit, an alkylation unit, a delayed coker unit, a sulfur recovery unit and a hydrotreater.

“Although we anticipate impact to production, ExxonMobil expects to be able to meet its contractual commitments,” a company spokesperson previously said about the planned maintenance.

The fluid catalytic cracker was not involved in the turnaround and had been operating via gasoil feed stored in railcars before a power glitch affected the unit.

Late Friday afternoon David Dumais, deputy fire chief of Torrance Fire Department, confirmed the following by phone.

* Upset occurred during maintenance turnaround,
* Refinery started turnaround this month on units including crude unit, alkylation unit, coker, hydrogen plant on May 2, 2013.

Any or all of the above article can be re-published with proper attribution to the author and the Bakkken Oil Business Journal.

Feel free to contact me for updated information.

Bob van der Valk  |  Managing Editor, Bakken Oil Business Journal
Terry, Montana  |  (406) 853-4251  |  editor@bakkenoilbiz.com

By: Amy Dalrymple, Forum News Service
THE DICKENSON PRESS

BISMARCK – Oil companies operating in North Dakota are keeping the brakes on this spring, but a “big surge in production” is expected this summer and fall, the director of the Department of Mineral Resources said Tuesday.

Lynn Helms said he expects the drilling rig count will increase from today’s count of 186 to 198 this summer, bringing as many as 2,000 more workers to Oil Patch communities.

Helms said he expects winter weather and spring road restrictions will continue affecting oil production for a few more months.

“It is going to be May, maybe even June, before production seriously gets underway,” Helms said.

Oil production rose 5.6 percent in February to 778,971 barrels per day, according to preliminary figures Helms released Tuesday.

The figure represents a new all-time high for North Dakota, but Helms said the increase was more modest than what he had projected.

“It’s still difficult to operate an oilfield and drill and frac wells in February, even a good February in North Dakota,” Helms said.

The department expects that winter storms will affect oil production in March and April. Helms projects it will take until May before the state hits 800,000 barrels per day.

“They’re keeping the brakes on as they ramp up a little bit this summer,” Helms said.

But once conditions improve, companies are expected to continue increasing their efficiency and drill more wells in less time.

Helms said the industry is proposing more multi-well pads, with seven wells on one location being the most popular number.

“It’s a positive thing because it decreases the footprint, increases the production and allows us to recover more of the Bakken and Three Forks oil,” Helms said.

One location in North Dakota has 14 wells that have been drilled. Helms said he’s signed three orders approving 18 wells on one location and he knows of two proposals that will come before him requesting to drill 24-well pads.

Flaring of natural gas rose about 1 percent in February to 30.4 percent, the second month in a row with an increase. The high was 36 percent in September 2011.

However, there has been huge improvement in the average number of days a well flares, Helms said. In 2007, a typical well flared for 380 days. In 2011, the average was 172 days and in 2012 the average was 51 days, Helms said.

Helms said he anticipates more progress will be made on reducing flaring this summer.