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ExxonMobil (XOM) Resumes Operations at Torrance Refinery

ExxonMobil Corporation XOM recently resumed operations of the fluid catalytic cracker (FCC) at its refinery in Torrance, CA. On May 10, the FCC resumed operations after meeting the air monitoring test of California’s regulatory agency South Coast Air Quality Management District (SCAQMD).

Notably, SCAQMD is the regulatory agency responsible for air-pollution control for the entire Orange County as well as portions of Los Angeles, Riverside, and San Bernardino counties. Based on the monitoring test, ExxonMobil would implement certain operational measures to mitigate excess emissions. To date, the company has invested around $161 million to repair a damaged electrostatic precipitator and another $1.1 million in drift eliminator upgrades to the refinery’s pretreater, hydrotreater, fuel gas treater, and north and south coker cooling towers.

The refinery was crippled by an explosion in Feb 2015, wounding four contractors, causing heavy damage at the plant and shocking nearby residents. The Torrance Refinery of Exxon Mobil covers 750 acres, and has approximately 650 employees and 550 contractors. It processed an average of 155,000 barrels of crude oil per day and produced 1.8 billion gallons of gasoline per year. The facility, known for special low-emissions gas, produces about 10% of all gasoline sold in California.

Engaged in oil and natural gas exploration and production, petroleum products refining and marketing, chemicals manufacture, and other energy-related businesses, ExxonMobil is the world’s largest publicly traded oil company. Approximately four-fifth of ExxonMobil’s earnings come from its operations outside the U.S.

ExxonMobil is one of the world’s best-run integrated oil companies given its track record of superior returns on capital employed. The energy giant has long been a core holding for investors seeking a defensive name with continued dividend growth. The company is also fairly active in its investment programs.

The strength of ExxonMobil primarily lies in its balanced operations, strong financial flexibility and steady improvement in efficiency and cost control. The company’s efforts to build an unconventional resource portfolio both in North America and overseas are aimed at increasing production through a wider exposure to large energy resources with a long reserve life and low field declines. However, we are skeptical about the company’s near-term performance owing to its muddled refining fortunes.

ExxonMobil currently carries a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold). Some better-ranked stocks from the same space are PetroChina Co. Ltd. PTR, Pembina Pipeline Corporation PBA and Braskem S.A. BAK. Each of these stocks sports a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy).

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PETROCHINA ADR (PTR): Free Stock Analysis Report
EXXON MOBIL CRP (XOM): Free Stock Analysis Report
BRASKEM SA (BAK): Free Stock Analysis Report
PEMBINA PIPELN (PBA): Free Stock Analysis Report
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