Order by judge ends Valero bid for oil terminals
Valero Energy Corp.’s onetime plans to buy oil terminals in Richmond and Martinez, which ran into an antitrust suit by the state of California, received their last rites Thursday when a federal judge signed an agreement by all sides to call off the sale and dismiss the suit.
Valero, the world’s largest independent petroleum producer, owns a refinery in Benicia and has said its acquisition of the nearby storage and distribution terminals from Plains All American Pipeline would help consumers. The company noted that the Federal Trade Commission, which shares oversight of antitrust enforcement for the federal government, had not challenged the sale.
But state Attorney General Xavier Becerra said in his lawsuit in July that the purchases would put all of the Bay Area’s petroleum terminals under oil company control and drive up gasoline prices.
The two companies, both based in Texas, announced last month that they were canceling the transaction because of the costs and uncertainties of a lawsuit. Thursday’s order by U.S. District Judge William Alsup of San Francisco, endorsed by both companies and Becerra, prohibits any such sale for 10 years.
If Valero nevertheless decides to make another attempt to buy the terminals within the next decade because of changed circumstances, the order requires the company to notify the California attorney general’s office in advance so that it can file another suit.
While last month’s announcement was welcome news, Becerra said in a statement, the court agreement “goes even further to ensure competition in the marketplace and to prevent monopolies.” He said the outcome “sends a strong message: California will protect its consumers and competition so that our state’s economy — the sixth largest in the world — can thrive.”
Valero tried to acquire the terminals in 2005 as part of its $2.8 billion purchase of Kaneb Services and Pipe Line Partners, which owned both facilities. But after antitrust objections from both the state and federal governments, Valero agreed to sell the terminals.
The company did not immediately respond to a request for comment Thursday.
Attorney General Xavier Becerra filed suit over the oil terminal sales.