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Tesoro Wilmington Refinery Begins Operating New Vacuum Tower

Tesoro Corp.’s new vacuum distillation unit is fully operational at the company’s 97,000-barrel-a-day refinery in Wilmington, California.

The 26-foot-tall tower will help the plant maximize gasoline, diesel and jet fuel production by increasing the amount of vacuum gas oil produced from crude, Tina Barbee, a company spokeswoman based in San Antonio, said in an e-mail.

California-grade 85.5-octane gasoline, or Carbob, in Los Angeles fell 1.25 cents to 11.25 cents a gallon versus futures traded on the New York Mercantile Exchange at 4:05 p.m. Eastern time, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

Tesoro announced in August 2011 that it was building the $40 million unit in the third quarter of this year. The company later said the project was expected to be finished during the fourth quarter.

On May 3, city regulators ordered Tesoro to halt the construction after the company put down a foundation without completing required inspections, David Lara, a spokesman for Los Angeles’s building and safety department, said June 21.

Tesoro reported a $48 million impairment charge Aug. 1 related to a change in the scope of a capital project at the Wilmington refinery.

Barbee said in an e-mail today that the project was finished on schedule.

Tesoro, the largest independent refiner on the West Coast, agreed to buy BP Plc’s 266,000-barrel-a-day Carson refinery and 800 gasoline stations for $1.18 billion, the companies said Aug. 13.

Tesoro plans to integrate the Carson and Wilmington plants, which would probably result in the shutdown of Wilmington’s fluid catalytic cracker, Barbee said Oct. 8.

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