Marathon Sues BP Claiming Shoddy Maintenance at Refinery

  • BP sold Texas City Refinery where 15 died in 2005 explosion
  • Marathon says refinery failed to comply with regulations

A Marathon Petroleum Corp. unit sued BP Plc subsidiaries, claiming the company left parts of a Texas City refinery in shoddy condition and lied about unfinished repairs and inspections when selling the complex to Marathon.

Marathon is seeking unspecified damages to cover the multi-million-dollar cost of completing plant-wide safety inspections, repairs and upgrades that BP allegedly promised to finish before the sale.

BP agreed to sell its Texas City refinery in 2012 for less than it had originally sought. In 2005, 15 workers were killed and hundreds injured at the refinery when a unit used to boost octane in gasoline overflowed as it was being restarted, igniting a blast that shattered windows five miles away.

Marathon said in its lawsuit filed Monday in Houston federal court that BP promised in the sale agreement to leave the refinery in compliance with environmental laws and federal regulations, but left thousands of critical pressure vessels untested and more than 500 electrical components out of compliance when it turned the facility over. Marathon said it also had to modify or install new secondary spill-containment mechanisms to bring both critical safety systems up to code.

‘Full Compliance’

BP satisfied all commitments to federal regulators and was in full compliance with the terms of the purchase agreement, said Geoff Morrell, senior vice president of BP’s U.S. Communications and External Affairs, in an e-mailed statement.

"This suit is nothing more than an attempt by Marathon to renegotiate the terms of the Texas City refinery purchase of almost 4 years ago," he said. "We will defend ourselves vigorously against this attempt by Marathon to re-write the economic terms of the sale and avoid their remaining payments under the agreement."

Marathon said it had to spend its own funds rerouting vents on the sulfur recovery unit to comply with state environmental regulations and finish “critical maintenance and repair work” on the refinery’s aromatics tower, which Marathon had to shut down immediately for repairs after taking control of the refinery, according to its complaint.

The case is Marathon Petroleum Co. LP v. BP Products North America Inc., 16-cv-00284, U.S. District Court, Southern District of Texas (Galveston).

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