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    Valero Cuts CARB Production for Repairs

    Refiner expects drop to last about two weeks.

    SAN ANTONIO -- Valero Energy Corp. said production of clean-burning California gasoline at its Benicia refinery will be reduced by 30,000 to 35,000 barrels per day for about two weeks to make repairs on a hydrocracker unit. The refinery's California Air Resources Board (CARB) gasoline capacity is 135,000 barrels per day.

    Repairs began over the weekend, said Mary Rose Brown, senior vice president for corporate communications at Valero's San Antonio headquarters.

    In addition to repairing a gas turbine that drives the recycled gas compression, refinery officials decided to accelerate a brief hydrocracker outage previously planned for early June for a partial catalyst change and do all the work at the same time, Brown said.

    The CARB gasoline cutback is the second at the Benicia refinery this month created by an equipment malfunction. On May 5, problems in a hydrogen-producing unit caused a seven-day, 11-percent reduction in CARB production.

    In other news, Valero reported a "small, brief fire" in an alkylation unit heater early Sunday at the company's refinery in Wilmington, Calif. Brown said the fire was quickly extinguished and there were no injuries or release of hazardous materials.

    "The fire was quickly contained and extinguished by Valero's emergency response team prior to the arrival of a unit from the Los Angeles fire department," she said. "Fence line air monitoring, which was conducted around the plant's perimeter, did not reveal any detectable emissions."

    The cause of the fire is under investigation. An estimate for required repair time or lost production levels was not immediately available. The unit produces alkylate, which is used as a gasoline-blending component to increase octane.

    Valero's Wilmington refinery is located near Los Angeles. It has a 141,000 barrel per day throughput capacity and manufactures 100 percent of motor fuels to stringent CARB standards. The company operates twelve refineries across the United States and Canada, 4,100 convenience stores in the southwestern and northeastern United States and eastern Canada branded under the Diamond Shamrock, Valero, Ultramar, Beacon, and Fina names, as well as 4,800 miles of refined product and crude oil pipelines which is operates in conjunction with its interest in Valero L.P.

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