ANOTHER Calif. refinery explodes : LUSENET : TimeBomb 2000 (Y2000) : One Thread

Heard on the radio that a Mobil Oil refinery just exploded in California. This is all too fishy. There are WAY too many explosions in refineries in California. If refineries are "normally" THAT dangerous, then they should be better regulated.

Price for regular unleaded has now climbed to $2.00 a gallon in one of our river communities.

-- marsh (, July 31, 1999


Yes, fishy, I agree. I'm glad you brought this up because I have been thinking about this all day and I wanted to put out this question without rumor mongering. ARE THESE REFINERY EXPLOSIONS Y2K RELATED???

I'm sure the oil companies will never tell us if they were testing their computers when things when haywire or not.


-- S. David Bays (, July 31, 1999.

correction to post above: "...when things WENT haywire or not." sdb

-- S. David Bays (, July 31, 1999.

There's an article about the spate of West Coast refinery explosions at:

It mentions experts wondering what's behind " the worst string of problems in recent memory" but doesn't offer any causes.

-- Bonnie Camp (, July 31, 1999.

wow, I've been waiting for one of the refineries around me to have a problem...sure enough that Mobil refinery is only a couple of miles away.

Thanks for the url Bonnie : )

Let's see...Mobil is over there and they had a fire, Chevron is right over there and so far, so good and Arco is right over there, nothing reported yet...

I'm surrounded : (



-- Michael Taylor (, July 31, 1999.

This is all VERY STRANGE!

And beyond coincidence.


Crude prices, refinery explosion help boost gas prices to 18-month high
MICHAEL WHITE, AP Business Writer
Friday, July 30, 1999 article.cgi?file=/news/archive/1999/07/30/state1749EDT0055.DTL

[Fair Use: For Educational/Research Purposes Only]

(07-30) 15:21 PDT LOS ANGELES (AP) -- Higher demand for crude oil has helped push U.S. gasoline prices to their highest levels in 18 months, and they could go higher because of OPEC production cuts.

Motorists on the West Coast have been hit even harder thanks to a series of refinery explosions that created a supply crunch.

Nationally, the average price of gasoline at the pump has risen more than 5 cents to $1.267 cents a gallon since early July, according to the California-based Lundberg Survey. Since February, when the average price dipped below $1, prices have risen 26.9 cents a gallon nationwide.

Prices could continue upward during August as more Americans take to the road for vacations and weekend outings, analysts said.

``You're right in the middle of the driving season and the economy is strong. People are driving around, taking vacations. There is more upward pressure,'' said Alvin Silber, an analyst with Herzog Heine Geduld.

``But remember, it's a very seasonable product. When you pass Labor Day and kids go back to school, normally that leads to a decline in demand and the price almost invariably starts declining at the pump,'' he said.

Production cuts were announced by the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and other big oil producers in February. To the surprise of many analysts, OPEC countries have stuck to their quotas and a worldwide glut of crude oil that pushed prices down to historic lows during 1998 and early 1999 is disappearing.

At the same time, demand for both crude oil and refined gasoline is increasing, especially in Asia where countries are emerging from the economic crisis that began two years ago.

As a result, the price of key grades of crude oil worldwide has nearly doubled since the OPEC cuts went into effect, said Fadel Gheit, an analyst with Fahnestock & Co.

``OPEC's death has been greatly exaggerated in the last three or four years,'' Gheit said. ``Obviously, these people woke up one day and said enough is enough and we'll put our foot down and show people we are still here.''

In California, prices have been further influenced by a series of refinery problems. An explosion forced Mobil Corp. to cut production at its Torrance refinery on Wednesday. The company's Richmond plant was damaged in a July 10 blast and has not resumed full production.

Production is lagging at an Exxon refinery in Benicia and a Tosco plant in Avon has been shut down since March because of fires.

Yet another production slowdown is on the way. Typically, August is the month when U.S. refineries retool to produce winter gasoline blends and ramp up production of heating oil for the winter season.

``That doesn't suggest that the increase in gas prices is going to abate,'' Silber said.

In a July 23 Lundberg Survey that ranked 66 U.S. cities according to gasoline price, Western cities held the top 18 positions. San Francisco led the list, followed by Reno, Nev., Portland, Ore., and Sacramento. The only cities east of Denver to make the top 20 were Cincinnati and Cleveland.

The run-up follows one of the oil industry's worst-ever slumps. Between October 1997 and February 1999, overproduction and weak demand dropped the price of benchmark West Texas Intermediate crude from nearly $21 to $11 a barrel.

The downturn forced big oil companies to lay off thousands of workers around the world and was a key factor in leading some companies, including Atlantic Richfield Co., Amoco Corp. and Mobil Corp., to seek mergers with larger competitors.

``If oil prices had remained at the January level for six more months, I would say the majority of independent oil producers would have been out of business by now, and more companies would have been forced to seek merger protection,'' Gheit said.

Even at today's prices, gas remains a bargain, Gheit said. When adjusted for inflation, prices are at their lowest level since World War II.

There's no guarantee the upward swing will continue, he added. If prices remain high, U.S. and European oil companies will increase production to boost the crude supply. And OPEC will be pressured to boost its output if high crude prices begin to fuel inflation in the United States.

``The market is really balanced very tentatively. One or 2 million barrels can tip the balance either way,'' he said.

-- Diane J. Squire (, July 31, 1999.

Refinery fire adds to gas hike
Thursday, July 29, 1999 article.cgi?file=/news/archive/1999/07/29/state1721EDT0057.DTL

[Fair Use: For Educational/Research Purposes Only]

(07-29) 14:21 PDT TORRANCE, Calif. (AP) -- Gas prices have increased slightly after a Mobil refinery fire this week cut the state's already tight fuel supplies.

Wholesale gasoline prices jumped 8 cents per gallon in California Wednesday after the early-morning fire forced the Southern California refinery, the sixth largest in the state, to shut down production.

The gas hike comes as several factors are combining to drive up gas prices in the state: the rise in crude oil prices, a drop in gasoline production and increased consumer demand.

Consumer and legislator complaints have sparked a federal investigation into gasoline pricing, and on Wednesday, state Attorney General Bill Lockyer sent letters to oil companies asking about rising gas prices.

The fire at the Torrance refinery, which processes 130,000 barrels of crude oil per day, damaged one of two hydrogen plants used in gasoline production, Mobil spokeswoman Carolin Keith said. She said the company did not know when the plant would be repaired.

-- Diane J. Squire (, July 31, 1999.


...If prices remain high, U.S. and European oil companies will increase production to boost the crude supply. And OPEC will be pressured to boost its output if high crude prices begin to fuel inflation in the United States.

What good will it do to pump more oil if the refineries that process it are exploding left and right? Sigh, just more disconnect.

Regarding the explosions, there is definitely something up here. We are slowly but surely, on a worldwide basis, losing the ability to process crude. There have been refinery explosions in Canada, India, South Korea and Africa, plus more than 10 refinery/pipeline explosions in the US, all in under 12 months? Add to this all of the power plant explosions we've been hearing about, the most recent in Columbia.

Sorry, but there just ain't no way this is all a coincidence.


-- TECH32 (TECH32@NOMAIL.COM), July 31, 1999.

What is the annual rate of refinery/pipline explosions historicaly? Anyone know?

-- Typhon Blue (, July 31, 1999.

Yeah, and here's another coincidence. Not too many months ago, per environmental regulations, thousands of service stations across the nation who couldn't afford the expense of installing new underground gas tanks were forced to shut down and close their doors. In my neighborhood, 13 stations were eliminated from the landscape. I see gas lines/shortages as a y2k outcome.


-- S. David Bays (, July 31, 1999.

I and some others are collecting data on this. As it is found, I am posting it at a web page

Pipeline, generating plant, and factory explosions and fires

It's not updated with the last week or so of stuff, and July reports are still probably trickling in.

Curiously, we have looked a lot and aren't finding any master list compiled of these kinds of events. I have a theory that this might exist on a state by state level, at some kind of a state equivalent of OSHA. Another guy working on this is looking at utilization statistics (he's currently on vacation, i think, I'm sure he'll pop in on this thread when he's back). I've been searching newspaper files, mostly, and collecting email reports. Please feel free to send me email if you hear about something, especially pipeline or transformer fires/explosions, as they don't always make it to regional or national media but rather are reported locally.

Robert waldrop

-- robert waldrop (, July 31, 1999.

I believe it is now fair to say we have gone beyond the "Red Truck Syndrome" argued about back around January. Seems to me the moniker should be more like the "Fire Truck Syndrome!"

-- (, July 31, 1999.

Perhaps they had no choice because of unreported explosions in their processes?Or are they so technologically advanced that the Middle East is exempt from these explosions?

"Production cuts were announced by the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and other big oil producers in February. To the surprise of many analysts, OPEC countries have stuck to their quotas and a worldwide glut of crude oil that pushed prices down to historic lows during 1998 and early 1999 is disappearing."

-- Desertj98 (, July 31, 1999.

Also, nowhere have I seen a report on the Washington refinery spill which dumped petrol into a tributary, which trickled down into a river, and which caught fire, killing 3, two young boys. Or at least, that is what I heard.

-- LuLou (, July 31, 1999.

Don't refineries have lots of embedded chips? Wonder if this could be the problem. Just a thought.

-- flb (, July 31, 1999.

FILED AS OF DATE: 1999/05/12
Quarterly Report (SEC form 10-Q)



Year 2000 Project

Mobil is engaged in a company-wide effort (Project) to address the issues that are likely to arise if computer programs and embedded computer chips are unable to properly recognize dates in and after the year 2000. The Project is focused on three main areas: the information technology (IT) systems in Mobil's computers and computer software, including those that are linked to the systems of third parties; the non-IT systems embedded in equipment that controls or monitors Mobil's operating assets; and Mobil's business relationships with third parties (referred to herein as external agents). The thrust of the Project is to address those of Mobil's IT systems, non-IT systems and relationships with external agents which Mobil judges to be materially important to Mobil. These systems or relationships, referred to herein as materially important, are those whose failure for year 2000 reasons would likely: put the safety of individuals at risk; lead to damage to property or the environment; put in jeopardy the value of Mobil's name or intellectual property; or trigger a significant adverse consequence to Mobil's financial performance or condition.


You can view any company 10Q, 10K or other related filings at EDGAR

. Under the first blank "Select the form", select 10Q (do not select 'ALL' because it will give you every filing - too many to sort through)

. Next blank line: Type in name of company, i.e., Mobil Corp

. Hit 'Submit Choices'

. From list click on the most recent filing date. Y2K info is generally about 3/4 way down under Year 2000 PROJECT


-- flb (, July 31, 1999.

just wondering...if your insurance company does not cover you, as a business, for y2k related failures...and you know certain operations are at high risk of such failure...and these same systems happen to experience grave trouble, prior to rollover...

-- mary (, July 31, 1999.

AP Wire:

Nuclear reactor shut down after electrical fire


PARIS (AP) - A nuclear reactor in southeastern France was shut down today after a fire broke out on an electrical panel, the state-run electricity company said.

The fire, which broke out early today at a nuclear reactor in the town of Bugey in the Ain region, posed no danger to the reactor, Electricite de France said in a statement.

Workers were able to control the blaze, which occurred outside of the nuclear zone, before firefighters arrived on the scene.

The fire was caused by a short circuit on an electrical panel at a production site, officials said.

The reactor will remain inactive for at least several days while authorities investigate the cause of the short circuit.

France, with a total of 57 nuclear reactors, depends on nuclear power for 80 percent of its electricity needs.

========================================= End


-- Ray (, July 31, 1999.

Anybody have information on what happens to embedded chips in oil refineries (and chemical plants) that fail Y2K testing?

Just a thought.


-- Diane J. Squire (, July 31, 1999.

Unfortunately these problems were not y2K inspired. You must understand that the West Coast refining environment is extremely complex. West Coast refineries rely on a lot of domestic crudes. If you look at imports as a percenatge, they import a lot less than say your Gulf Coast or East Coast refineries. Much of the crude run in these plants is "heavy crude" meaning it has a low gravity and higher sulphur. The deal here is proximity. These bbls are available in the middle of the state and therefore don't have to be loaded on to a boat in some foreign port 3000 miles away. There is a tremendous economic incentive to run a big slate of these crudes since they are close by, physically speaking and connected via pipeline to almost all California refineries.

The other issue at hand in Cal. refineries is one of complexity. The refineries in California are by far, some of the most complex in the world. This was acheived primarily by the switch to a CARB (California Air Resources Board) spec gasoline. Refineries spent BBBillions on upgrades to be able to make these gasoline specs work. Unfortunately, that meant a corresponding increase in refinery complexity as well as an "islanding" of the California gasoline market. See, if I make this real expensive hard to make stuff in my state, when I have problems, then I can't import gas from other states unless they can make my expensive spec. But by god, my air is cleaner (unfortunately the water is now polluted due to CA's misguided attempt to clean the air by using MTBE in the gas! Duh!).

So that's it in a nutshell. Complex refineries making high spec products running heavy high sulfur crudes = problems.

I don't think there's any big Y2K mystery here. Unfortunately for all involved however. I wonder daily at how many of these plants used vendor compliance statements as gospel truth? How many have actually ripped up the PLCS to see if there will be probs?

Hang on America. Things will undoubtedly get weird.

-- Gordon (, July 31, 1999.

Dear Brother Marsh

Sir, I attempeted to give an expanation to the refinery, pipe line, power station embeded systems problems in a thread that Cheri started earlier, vaguely it was titled Embeds and embeded systems...

The problems occuring, can be most readily traced to the start-up proceedures of refineries' new automation projects.....

A lttle over three years ago. There was a huge effort in progress by Moblie. Chevron,Diamond Shamrock etc. To put in place atomated control systems of all their refineries. (To cut down on their labor costs...of course!). At That time I was in Dumas, Texas helping to automate a Diamond Shamrock refinery.( Honey Well was the prime Contractor and had subbed out the labor to a Lousianna Electrical contractor...

At one point, just as we where bringing the various sub-systems on line...Honey Well reps. were called in, and a week long debate (about some thing) occurred. At he end of it, the Electrical Contractor came away from the meeting with the directions to cease all work and to re-install the old analog/manual system that had been in place for many years....

And all such jobs across the US were stopped at about the same time. With no explanation given. ( except a vague one...That it would be cost prohibitive to modernize an exhisting plant, and cheaper to build a new one) They have not resume automating these jobs again.

As I stated before on the Cheri tread...It takes about half on the job's duration time to run a start-up sequence i.e. four year job= two years start-up proceedures...= two years that any of the suspect embeded chips with a date problem can occur in that particular plant, power station etc. Starting a little while ago we entered this 24 month window, Oh there'll be early and late faiures...But the bulk of the probems will occur in this time frame of 24 months. the end, when this is all over (if it ever is) history will record that it was the embeded systems that did us in. They are easily 90% of the y2k problems.


-- Shakey (in_a_bunker@forty.feet), July 31, 1999.


The spill to which you refer was reported in several places at the time, especially in the Seattle Times. It was actually a pipeline that broke, not a refinery spill.

It was discussed in other threads here in this forum, but I do not now remember the names of those threads.


-- Jerry B (, July 31, 1999.

Wish Robert Cooke would give us his take on this.

-- thinkIcan (, July 31, 1999.

Robert's on vacation. Back soon.

-- Diane J. Squire (, July 31, 1999.

So.... maybe these refineries are not y2k compliant- so they blow them up, take the insurance money, and rebuild later......

-- farmer (, July 31, 1999.

Yes, Robert Waldrop, robert Cook, and I are following all this closely. It is hard to get the data one needs to definitely prove something is going on. I am looking into the decline in national capacity to refine oil based on the fires and explosions so far. For California alone, which seems to be the "accident" leader this year there has been a major reduction in capacity. The last numbers I have (1997) indicate a total operable capacity in California of 1,947,300 barrels per day. The three largest incidents this year (Tosco, Chevron, and Mobil) reduced refining capacity in California by approximately 525,000 barrels a day. That is 27% of the total capacity based on the 1997 figure--probably not off too much.

This is not a minor glitch. It is a major reduction and will have long lasting effects. Chevron already has approval to bring in "dirty" gas to sell in California. I don't think California would have approved this if it wasn't quite serious.

The "capacity" strategy I've been pursuing is based on the idea that it is hard to find all the accidents--now, or in the past. Capacity, however, reflects the capability of the oil industry. All accidents feed into it in one way or another. There is historical data we can compare it against to see if this year's reductions are unusual. At this point they appear to be very unusual, but I need to get a little more data yet before I want to put this info out.

With good data, I believe we can predict future trends and I have developed an equation for this which will also come out in the future when I am happy the data set is defensible.

This equation is a Y2K predictor giving a result on the Edwards scale, but based on real data from info like the oil industry capacity reductions. (Assuming of course that Y2K is somehow responsible for all this. Other ideas are welcome.)

Mike Munn (retired Lockheed Chief Scientist--PhD in Physics)

-- Michael Munn (, July 31, 1999.

"Chevron already has approval to bring in "dirty" gas to sell in California. I don't think California would have approved this if it wasn't quite serious."

Thanks Mr. Munn, I hadn't heard anything about this. Something would be very serious indeed if TPTB are going to allow "dirty" gas to be sold here, especially in the LA area where I am.



-- Michael Taylor (, July 31, 1999.

Refinery accidents are on the increase. y2k might be the cause, or it might not. California's problem probobly stems from the old age of it's facilities. Environmentalists have suceeded in retarding new refinery and power plant construction in CA and the northeast. These areas will pay a more fearful price when the century turns because of the ignorance and stupidity associated with radical environmentalism. Ironically, they will create more pollution and human misery because they so fanatically opposed modernization of petroleum and power generation facilities.

-- doktorbob (, July 31, 1999.

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