OT? McKee refinery "glitch" affects Denver and Colorado Springs

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Is this a portent of things to come? Article does not explain what kind of "glitch" this was, but Ultra Diamond Shamrock admits this has not happened before.

From the August 18, 1999 issue of The Denver Post, pg. 1C

Some Texaco pumps run dry By Kelly Yamanouchi (Special to the Denver Post)

Operating problems at a major refinery in Texas left some Texaco service stations in Denver and Colorado Springs short on gasoline and others dry late last week and early this week.

Texaco gas stations were short on gas as early as August 11 and as late as Monday afternoon, although some stations were up and running again by Sunday.

Other service stations were not completely dry and may have had premium gasoline only, according to Joby Humphrey, spokeswoman for Equilon Enterprises, the affiliate company that operates Colorado Texaco and Shell service stations.

Some drivers who hold Texaco company credit cards found themselves driving around looking for fuel over the weekend.

"We go to three Texacos and they're all out," said Pete Webb, who says he went to two stations in search of fuel - but to no avail.

"I was almost out of gas," he said.

Webb said a coworker was turned away from another station on August 11.

The McKee refinery in Dumas, Texas, supplies gasoline to Colorado Springs and parts of Denver.

The glitch at the refinery was resolved by last weekend, according to Ultramar Diamond Shamrock, which runs the facility.

Some service stations were left short on fuel until Monday because the gasoline needs to travel through the pipeline from Texas to Colorado, which could have two take(n) two days, said Mary Hartman, spokeswoman for Ultramar Diamond Shamrock. Hartman added that she did not know if other suppliers besides Texaco were short on gasoline and that the shortage only affected the two areas in Colorado.

With more drivers on the road during the summer months, a pipeline bringing petroleum products to Denver from the East was unable to make up for the drop in supply from the Texas refinery.

"This time of year, when demand is high, if there's a slight problem in the refinery, there can be a short-term supply problem," Hartman said.

Hartman said the refinery fulfilled its contract with Texaco, but it might not have been able to supply extra gasoline beyond the agreement, which led to the shortages.

Ultramar Diamond Shamrock said it doesn't anticipate running into this type of problem again and there are no records of the last time it occurred.

Equilon said Tuesday it was seeking alternative sources to fuel its service stations, including trucking gasoline into Denver.

"I don't think it's going to last much longer," said Humphrey.

-- kalani & katiuska (kalani_hanohano@hotmail.com), August 18, 1999



This is the last refinery we worked on...sub contractor Nutron Elet. out of Lousanna. The job was halted half way through it's new automation process three years ago...then started up again this past fall. I guess that they didn't check out the old PLC's we put in (all Honeywell hibreds).


-- Shakey (in_a_bunker@forty.feet), August 18, 1999.

All this from so quickly from just one "Minor glitch" at ONE refinery?

I don't care what the "glitch" was - double-speak for computer error - but I thought we were promised all of these problems were going to be solved in three days?

Or I guess three-to-seven days now according to Mr K.

-- Robert A. Cook, PE (Kennesaw, GA) (cook.r@csaatl.com), August 18, 1999.

This situation is not unusual. Most people don't realize that our industry went JIT some time ago along with the rest of the world. Day in day out the markets that are thin due to supply logistics Denver, Phoenix, Nevada etc. skate on through with only slight burps.

However, locations without access to other refining markets physically close and/or waterborne imports are bound to this tenous existence. Any prolonged problem would be disastrous for them.

Trucking barrels by the way is always an option, but do you know what kind of freight you're looking at from McKee to Denver? The dead freight on tankers adds up real fast and no company could afford to follow this option for long.

-- Gordon (g_gecko_69@hotmail.com), August 18, 1999.

Now that would be interesting. Truck ship gasoline in bulk from refinery on out to end user. Lets see, gasoline at, say, $10-50 a gallon? Yikes.

-- Jim the Window Washer (Rational@man.com), August 18, 1999.

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