Exxon Mobil Corp. on Wednesday announced it has agreed to sell its damaged Torrance oil refinery, a pair of Vernon refinery product centers and other related California assets for a reported $537 million.
PBF Energy of Parsippany, N.J., will acquire the refinery and related facilities, along with 700 employees and 700 contract workers. The deal, announced Wednesday afternoon, is not expected to close until mid-2016, around the time the crippled Torrance refinery is expected to return to full service.
Exxon-Mobil had announced last September that it planned to sell the refinery as part of a companywide restructuring, and several bidders had expressed interest. The sale was put on hold after a massive explosion rocked the refinery in February, knocking out more than 80 percent of production capacity.
The Torrance refinery had provided roughly 20 percent of the refining capacity for Southern California; after the explosion, gas prices in the region rocketed up.
Industry analysts had expected the refinery to come back online in July, but ExxonMobil officials could not reach agreement with local air quality regulators on a plan to use old pollution control equipment until new equipment could be readied. Exxon announced earlier this month it was dropping that plan and that the refinery would not return to full production until the second quarter of 2016.
Meantime, a Business Journal analysis found that through this month, California consumers had paid a cumulative $3 billion more for gas at the pump than they would have if there had been no refinery explosion.
The sale of the refinery is contingent upon regulatory approvals; both parties estimated that those approvals would be granted by the middle of next year. However, several investigations into the causes of the explosion are under way and it’s possible those investigations and concerns of local regulators could push back the deal closing.
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