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Opinion
Liam Denning

Even Old Oil Refiners Get This Disruption Thing

It's partly an attempt to cash in on big changes in the oil market.

Oil storage tanks stand at the Valero Energy Corp. St. Charles Refinery at night in Norco, Louisiana, U.S., on Thursday, Feb. 8, 2018. U.S. refiners exported staggering amounts of diesel and gasoline last year, hitting records in both categories while continuing to eye more opportunities to expand.
Oil storage tanks stand at the Valero Energy Corp. St. Charles Refinery at night in Norco, Louisiana, U.S., on Thursday, Feb. 8, 2018. U.S. refiners exported staggering amounts of diesel and gasoline last year, hitting records in both categories while continuing to eye more opportunities to expand.Photographer: Bloomberg/Bloomberg

For all its painful ubiquity, “disruption” is not a word usually thrown around when discussing oil refining. The business of taking toxic raw materials and turning them into useful fuels inside a mess of pipes and tanks is as old-school as it gets.

Even so, Marathon Petroleum Corp.’s $36 billion acquisition of Andeavor, sprung Monday morning, is at least partly an attempt to capitalize on, and get ahead of, some big disruptions both happening now and about to hit the oil market.