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    Man Sought for Photographing Valero, Marathon Refineries

    FBI has repeatedly warned refiners that they are possible terrorist targets.

    HOUSTON -- Law enforcement officials are looking for a man seen taking pictures of Valero and Marathon Ashland Petroleum refineries in Texas City, Texas, reported Reuters.

    Texas City, located on the Texas Gulf coast about 30 miles south of Houston, has three refineries, including the largest U.S. plant operated by BP plc., which is the third-largest U.S. refinery, processing 470,000 barrels of crude oil per day.

    The man, described as white with dark hair, was seen taking pictures outside of the refineries, all located on the same highway, at about 5 p.m. CDT on Saturday, said Bruce Clawson, emergency management and homeland security director for Texas City.

    While it is not illegal to take pictures of a refinery from a highway or street, officials would like to talk to the man to find out his reason for taking the photographs.

    "This is based on the idea that al-Qaida does its homework," Clawson said. "That's not to say we don't have enough homegrown idiots already who might want to do something."

    The man was seen driving a white van.

    Valero Energy Corp. operates a 243,000-barrel-per-day (bpd) refinery in Texas City. Marathon Ashland Petroleum LLC, a joint venture between Marathon Oil Corp. and Ashland Inc., operates a 76,000 bpd refinery in Texas City.

    The U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation has repeatedly warned refiners that they are possible targets for would-be terrorists. U.S. refinery security officials say their security guards regularly report people observing or taking pictures of refineries.

    During the Independence Day holiday, ExxonMobil Corp. tightened security at the largest U.S. refinery, the 538,000 bpd plant in Baytown, Texas, because of general warnings about possible terrorist activity.

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