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Tesoro refines a community relationship built to last...

Posted: February 8, 2012 - 9:00am

When Tesoro's Kenai refinery began operations on the peninsula, bell bottoms were all the rage and everyone was celebrating the landing of the first man on the moon. There were 17 employees then, and the refinery had a total crude throughput capacity of 17,500 barrels per day. Now, 43 years later, the refinery employs more than 200 community members and can process 72,000 barrels of crude per day to provide products to the surrounding areas. "We are proud to employ Alaskans to make products that Alaskans buy," said Kenai Refinery Vice President James Tangaro. "We are a company that has truly grown along with our community and I couldn't think of a better place to cultivate such a positive relationship than here in Kenai."

According to Tangaro, Tesoro's Kenai refinery receives its crude--Alaska North Slope, Cook Inlet and some Light Foreign feedstocks--by double hulled tankers through the eastern Cook Inlet and the Kenai pipeline. "Even though we are geographically distant from large fuel markets, reliability of supply is excellent," said Tangaro, adding that even with declining Inlet and North Slope production he remains optimistic for the refining industry here in the future, "We have really high hopes for the Inlet. In the next couple of years there are some operators ready to invest in exploration and we're behind them one hundred percent and I think there is still work to be done and production to be made on the Slope as well, so we're optimistic about the refining business in Alaska," he said.

Once the crude arrives in Nikiski it is refined to make products such as propane, gasoline, jet and diesel fuels, heavy vacuum gas oil, fuel oil and asphalt. These products are moved through Tesoro's pipeline to be delivered to the Nikiski and Anchorage terminals, as well as the Anchorage International Airport. Forty-six Tesoro-branded stations, 31 Tesoro 2GO Stations and two USA Gasoline stations in the Alaskan market receive the products by truck to provide the community with needed transportation fuels. During this very intricate and assiduous process, Tesoro's Kenai employees maintain a relentless dedication to safety and to the quality of products. Their hard work has paid off with an admirable 2.8 million hours since their last Day Away From Work (DAFW) due to injury--a recognition by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. The refinery's employees can also be proud of achieving the Zero API process safety event award in 2010.

To encourage a fusion of educational initiatives and environmental stewardship, the refinery proudly sponsors the annual Caring for the Kenai environmental awareness contest, a nationally-recognized program that challenges high school students to preserve and care for the environment on the Kenai Peninsula and provides over $25,000 in cash awards to students and their classrooms. Additionally, Tesoro's Kenai employees raise more than $100,000 for the United Way, which provides valuable services to residents in need, and as founding sponsors of Alaska Business Week, employees teach area students firsthand practical applications in business and entrepreneurship.

According to Tangaro, in cooperation with the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation, refinery engineers furthered their commitment to help protect the environment by revising the Cook Inlet Spill Removal Organization's technical manual and training guide. "Tesoro's Kenai refinery employees have enjoyed building and fostering a positive relationship with neighbors in and around the Kenai Peninsula, balancing both business and public service to better serve the community." Tangaro told the Soldotna Chamber of Commerce at a recent luncheon meeting.

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