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OGDEN, Utah -- Flying J Inc. is still searching for a crude oil supply for its North Salt Lake City refinery as it gets set to fire up the machinery at the end of this week.
As reported by KGET.com, Big West Oil LLC, the wholly owned subsidiary of Flying J that operates the refinery, said it shut down the facility for 10 days of routine maintenance shortly after the company filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in December.
In the meantime, Shell Oil cut off crude deliveries and shut down its main pipeline. A union that represents steelworkers at the Flying J refinery claims Shell Oil is trying to financially squeeze the refinery out of business, according to the report.
Shell Oil said it is negotiating fairly and could not possibly put the refinery out of business because Shell only supplies a fraction of the refinery's crude supply.
Refinery spokesman Bill Chadick told KGET.com a key piece of machinery, its hydrocracker, is set to go back online at the refinery later this week.
The union representative said the refinery delayed powering up the hydrocracker until the last minute, hoping a last-minute deal with a crude supplier would prevent the refinery from having to shutter the machine again.
Flying J spokesman Peter Hill reported Flying J was working diligently and patiently with its crude creditors. "Flying J values the relationship it has with suppliers," Hill said. "The company hopes the ongoing negotiations will eventually lead to a mutually beneficial resolution in the near future."
In a letter to Attorney General Jerry Brown, Sen. Barbara Boxer, a Democrat from San Francisco, asked him to investigate whether Shell or any other crude suppliers were holding back on supply and preventing the refinery from getting back online. Through a spokesman, Brown said late Monday his office was investigating the matter, the report stated.
"I take these allegations very seriously and I intend to have my office take a hard look at the situation," Brown said in a statement. "The Attorney General's office was instrumental in preventing Shell from closing this refinery in 2005, I am not going to permit Shell to do indirectly what we would not allow them to do directly four years ago."
A Shell spokeswoman dismissed the allegations as false.
"Shell has no interest in seeing the refinery closed," Shell external affairs manager Alison Chassin said in a statement. "The Bakersfield refinery enables us to efficiently and economically supply Shell stations in Bakersfield and Fresno with gasoline.”
Chassin added, "We would cooperate fully should California Attorney General Jerry Brown and others elect to investigate this unfortunate situation."