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Exxon Mobil’s Torrance refinery restart is delayed until Monday night

May 6, 2016

Exxon Mobil has delayed the return of its Torrance refinery to full operation because of unexpected operational delays.

The oil company plans to fire up a key part of the plant that helps process gasoline on Monday night instead of Saturday night as previously planned.

As part of its start-up procedure, Exxon Mobil plans to turn off the refinery’s pollution control system for six hours during a 12-hour period, a step approved by the South Coast Air Quality Management District as a safety precaution. That period is expected to begin at 7 p.m. Monday and to end by 7 a.m. Tuesday.

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FOR THE RECORD

An earlier version of this post incorrectly stated that the refinery would be shut off for 12 hours instead of the previoiusly announced six hours. The refinery will be shut off for six hours during a 12-hour period.

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The shutdown will result in “somewhat higher emissions,” said AQMD spokesman Sam Atwood, but the district does not expect emissions to pose any harm to residents.

The Torrance refinery has sat mostly inoperable since a February 2015 explosion destroyed the plant’s pollution control system. After the explosion, Exxon Mobil ran Torrance at about 20% of its normal production.

Without the full operation of the plant, which usually generates 10% of the state’s refined gasoline capacity and 20% of the capacity in Southern California, gas prices in the Los Angeles region rose as much as $1.50 above the national average last year.

The California Energy Commission has repeatedly stated that returning Torrance to full service was crucial to closing the gap between gasoline prices in the L.A. area and the rest of the country. California prices are almost always higher than national prices, largely because of above-average taxes and fees, state requirements to produce special low-pollution blends and the relatively small number of refineries in the state.

After Torrance is fully operational, Exxon Mobil plans to sell the plant to New Jersey-based PBF Energy. The deal is expected to close by midyear.

ivan.penn@latimes.com

Twitter: @ivanlpenn.

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