ExxonMobil Corp., hounded by regulatory investigations into its safety record since a February explosion tore through the company’s Torrance refinery, confirmed today it has sold the crippled plant for $537.5 million to independent refiner PBF Energy.
The deal is significant because the 155,000-barrel-a-day refinery in Torrance, a suburb south of Los Angeles, has been shut down since early 2015 when a fire destroyed a unit critical to making gasoline.
“We are excited to be adding a refinery with Torrance’s complexity and we look forward to entering the West Coast market”, said PBF CEO Tom Nimbley. “We knew investigators were intensifying their scrutiny of Exxon’s actions during the past week and sources say it’s got under the company’s skin”, the non-profit organization said.
The plant will be operational before the sale is completed next year, PBF Energy said in a statement.
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.
ExxonMobil’s 700 employees, including about 600 at the refinery itself, were informed of the sale shortly after 1 p.m. With the deal, PBF lags behind only Phillips66 in its regional diversity.
The purchase gives PBF greater geographic diversity, expanding beyond its plants in New Jersey, Delaware, Ohio and Louisiana. The refinery typically provides as much as one-fifth of Southern California’s gasoline supply. Those additives boost the price of gas about 40 cents a gallon in California. Californians have been paying about 70 cents a gallon more than the rest of the country; in Los Angeles on Wednesday, gas is about 82 cents above the national average, according to the AAA Fuel Gauge Report.
The company’s M-70 pipeline carries heavy crude from the San Joaquin Valley.
PBF’s Dill said the company intends to offer jobs to the hundreds of employees working for ExxonMobil in Torrance now, including members of United Steelworkers 675 and the global Brotherhood of Electrical Workers.