Utah's Oil Industry and Utah's Railroads
Index For This Page
This page was last updated on May 17, 2015.
(This is a work in progress; research continues.)
Prior to World War II, Union Pacific's principal customers between Utah's two largest cities were sugar-beet factories at Layton and West Ogden. Since World War II, its principal customers have been the largest petroleum refining complex in the Intermountain West. In 1948 all four refineries began receiving most of their crude by pipeline from the Rangely Field at Rangely, Colorado. While the UP had lost the crude-oil haul, it was not a total loss, since the UP owned 76 percent of the Rangely Field. Discovered in 1945, UP's share of Rangely's production zoomed to 3.6 million barrels in 1951, but faded to 2 million barrels by 1962. The UP sold its share of the Rangely Field for $62 million in 1963. The UP still has large stakes in western Wyoming and northeastern Utah oil fields. Utah is usually thought of as a coal state, not an oil state, but since 1960 its oil fields and its refineries have usually produced more Btu's of energy than Utah's coal mines. The UP is usually thought of as a railroad, not an oil company, but since World War II its oil and gas wells have contributed from one-fourth to one-half of the company's net income. (Union Pacific Salt Lake Route, by Mark W. Hemphill, Boston Mills, 1995, page 131)
Oil was first discovered in Utah as early as 1891, but large-scale commercial operations did not start until September 1948 with the discovery of a well in Ashley Valley in the Uintah Basin that produced 300 barrels of oil per day. (More early history here; see also Utah's Black Gold, page 292)
It is believed that Utah's natural petroleum was first used in San Juan County. Oil seeps were discovered in the Bluff area and the oil used for various purposes by early settlers. The first well was drilled in 1908 by the San Francisco-San Juan Oil Co. Immediately thereafter, a large number of wells were drilled. There were few showings of oil. By 1948, 146 wells had been put down. Discovery of the rich Aneth field by the Texas Co. in January of 1956 triggered a huge exploration boom that soon made San Juan the leading oil producing county of the state. (Utah Mining Association, "Operational and Economic Review, August 1967, page 72)
Uintah County's first oil well was drilled near the Grand County line, north of Brown Cliffs, in 1900 by John Pope. There was no showing of gas or oil. 40 wells were drilled from 1900 to 1948, with minor production in 1908-1910, but no good commercial discoveries were made. The first real commercial producer, Equity Oil Company's No. 1 in Ashley Valley, started a Utah oil boom in 1948 that has continued up to this writing (1967). Prior to 1958, Uintah County was the state's leading oil producer. However, the completion of two crude pipelines connecting San Juan County with Texas and California refining centers boosted that county into first place. (Utah Mining Association, "Operational and Economic Review, August 1967, page 85)
Interest in locating oil in Utah came from 1933 discoveries by Chevron of commercial quantities of oil in the Rangely field just across the border in northwestern Colorado. Within seven years after the Ashley Valley field came on line in 1948, there were more producing fields in the Uintah Basin, including Roosevelt (1949), Red Wash (1951), Walker Hollow (1953), and Bluebell (1955). By 1967, there were 16 producing oil fields, with 321 producing wells, and another 352 producing wells that had been drilled but were capped.
"The Ashley Valley No. 1 of Equity Oil Company blew in on September 18, 1948. Drilling activity gained momentum and production soared." "There are 39 commercial wells and 45 wells being drilled." Annual production on 1951 alone was 1,300,000 barrels, compared to 183,000 barrels for the entire period between 1907 and 1948. (Deseret News, December 12, 1951)
Salt Lake City Refinery (Tesoro)
- 474 W 900 N, Salt Lake City (northeast of UP's North Yard in Salt Lake City)
- Built in 1908 by Lubra Oils Manufacturing Co.
- Sold to Utah Oil Refining Co. in 1909, to Utah Oil Company in (?)
- To Amoco in 1963
- Sold to Tesoro in September 2001
Utah Oil Company was incorporated on June 3, 1909, and was the first commercially successful petroleum company in the state. The early refinery was located on a small quarter acre north of Salt Lake City and produced seven barrels per day of kerosene, greases, and lubricating oils. In 1917, half interest in Utah Oil was bought by Midwest Refining Co.
An early predecessor company of Utah Oil Company was Bennett Gas and Oil Company, which had stations in Salt Lake City and Ogden. Some research in the Utah Digital Newspaper Project shows that Bennett Gas & Oil was founded in 1915. They operated until at least 1928, with the company being sold to Utah Oil Company (date?). (conversations with Ralph Gochnour)
January 28, 1923
Utah Oil and Refining Company was reorganized in January 1923. The new company included a 1/20th interest in Mountain Producers Corporation, an oil company located in Wyoming. (New York Times, January 28, 1923)
Standard Oil of Indiana took ownership of Midwest Oil in July 1921, including Midwest's half ownership of Utah Oil Company (Utoco). Standard later acquired 75 percent of Utah Oil, and in the 1950s, that percentage was increased to 100 percent. Utoco relied upon crude oil delivered by Union Pacific in tank cars until a pipeline was it built between Salt Lake City and Wyoming oil fields in 1939.
Utah Oil Company's products included Vico motor oils and greases and Pep gasolines. The retail filling stations used the Pep 88 and Vico brands until March 1948, when they were changed to Utoco. (Iron County Record, March 18, 1948)
Utoco became a familiar brand of gasoline throughout Utah and Idaho, and later, in eastern Nevada, western Wyoming, and eastern Oregon and Washington.
Utah Oil Company was owned as a subsidiary of Standard Oil of Indiana. In 1946 when the parent company decided on a common logo, combining the oval shape from subsidiary Amoco and the torch from Indiana Standard, Utah Oil Refining became Utoco, and other subsidiaries Indiana Standard, Standard Service, and Nebraska Standard all simply became Standard. At the same time, the international sales subsidiary became Amoco. In late 1960, the parent company, also known as Indiana Standard, decided to tweak its marketing strategy. The subsidiaries Amoco and Utoco became the American brand, leaving the Standard brand to the midwest and the American brand for the rest of the United States. Between its Standard and American brands, with the torch-and-oval sign, Indiana Standard was the first "Standard" to expand its operations to the lower 48 contiguous states. In 1974, the American brand was changed to Amoco.
The following comes from a history of Standard Oil Company, at U. S. Highways.com (link):
Standard Oil of Indiana decided on a common logo in 1946, combining the oval shape from subsidiary Amoco and the torch from Indiana Standard. All stations were to use the new logo style, with different text for each unit. Pan-Am Petroleum became Pan-Am. Utah Oil Refining became Utoco, and Indiana Standard / Standard Service and Nebraska Standard became simply Standard. International sales used Amoco, but the US Amoco domestic branch resisted adding the torch to its famous oval and held off till 1954, when Amoco Torch and Oval signs started appearing. In 1956, the Pan-Am brand was replaced by Amoco. Indiana Standard purchased True's Oil Company (Rainbow stations) in 1960, trying to add to its weaker west coast presence and started to re-brand them to Utoco.
In late 1960, Indiana Standard decided to tweak its marketing strategy. Amoco and Utoco became American, leaving Standard in the midwest and American for the rest of the USA. Between its Standard and American brands on the Torch-and-Oval sign, Indiana Standard was the first "Standard" to expand its operations to the 48 contiguous US states. The energy crisis of the 1970's forced Indiana Standard to pull back from many states where it had only a marginal presence, largely abandoning the south central and southwestern US.
December 17, 1959
"Indiana Standard Forms Unit -- The Standard Oil Company (Indiana) announced yesterday that it would consolidate on Jan. 1, all research on petroleum products and processes under a single research and development department. The department will be responsible for product and research requirements of the parent organization and its affiliated American Oil Company and the Utah Oil Refining Company. Philip C. White, now general manager of research and development, will be general manager of the consolidated department." (New York Times, December 17, 1959)
October 1, 1960
"INDIANA STANDARD TO BE REORGANIZED -- HAMMOND, Ind., Sept. 30 -- (AP) Plans to reorganize the Standard Oil Company of Indiana and two of its subsidiaries have been approved by stock holders. A company spokesman said the reorganization would make Standard the parent of its subsidiaries and that Standard would not hold direct operating assets as it now does in fifteen midwestern states. More than 88 per cent of the concern's 35,100,000 shares outstanding yesterday were counted in favor of the move, while less than one per cent voted against, the spokesman said. The plan calls for Standard and its subsidiaries, Utah Oil Refining Company and American Oil Company, to merge under unified management and a common·title -American Oil Company - as of Dec. 31. All three of the company's domestic refining, marketing and related activities would be under American Oil's control. John E. Swearingen, Standard's president, said the company would continue to operate under its present title but as a division of American Oil. Plans call for American Oil's·headquarters to be in Standard's Chicago offices. Utah Oil is situated in Salt Lake City and American in New York City." (New York Times, October 1, 1960)
Standard of Indiana changed marketing strategies in 1961, after merging all of its retail companies into a single company on January 1, 1961, with the new company taking the name American Oil Company. Beginning in April 1961, the Utoco retail outlets were re-branded as American, in what was known as "The Big Step." The re-branding of more than 700 retail outlets and bulk plants throughout the Utoco Division was to be completed by May 1, 1961. (Iron County Record, April 13, 1961)
May 19, 1961
"American Oil Campaign -- On Tuesday the American Oil Company will start a coast-to-coast campaign using all media to tell motorists that its marketing operation has been unified. D'Arcy Advertising Company, the agency for American, is using a uniformed American Oil dealer, wearing seven-league boots, taking a giant stride across a map of the United States symbolizi11g the "Big Step" the company is taking in its corporate consolidation. Three regional marketers - American, Standard Oil Company (Indiana) and Utah Oil Refining Company - have been combined. The giant dealer, smiling and in rare good humor, will appear in newspapers and billboards throughout May and June. Color will be used in newspapers wherever possible. Motorists will be told in the advertising that American now will serve them with generally common brands of petroleum products at any one of 29,000 service stations.
"American Super Premium and American Regular will replace Standard's Gold Crown and Red Crown brands in the Midwest and Utah Oil's Ultra-Power brands in the Northwest. In the East and South the company will continue to market its premium fuel as Amoco Super Premium. American Regular will continue to be sold.
"Because its marketing operation now reaches across the country, national consumer magazines will be used in this campaign where they could not be used profitably previously by the three regional marketers. The Saturday Evening Post and Life will carry double-truck and gatefold color insertions. The newspaper schedule in eludes 800 dailies and 1,200 weeklies. The television list covers 154 stations. One of the spots will be a two-mintite spectacular using twenty seven singers and dancers in a musical number written especially for the miniature extravaganza. Radio will use the same song on 330 stations. About 6,400 outdoor posters will be used in 1,748 towns. Some complications in the national program remain. Art work and copy must vary from region to region in order to explain how the consolidated company differs from the old ones as they existed in each region. For competitive reasons tbe name Standard is being retained on the service station signs in the midest. The new signs are already in place at the service stations. Amoco and Utoco identification signs have been replaced by a red, white and blue torch-and-oval insignia bearing the word American." (New York Times, May 19, 1961)
On January 1, 1963, Utah Oil Company was officially absorbed into the parent Standard Oil Company of Indiana, which changed its name to American Oil Company (Amoco). (Utah's Black Oil, page 304)
Amoco's retail brand was "Rainbo", but apparently just for the approximately 39 retail outlets in the Salt Lake City area.
Amoco Oil Company was one of three subsidiaries of Amoco Corporation, an Indiana corporation that served as a holding company for all of the former Standard Oil of Indiana's interests in exploration, production, and distribution of petroleum products, including chemicals.
Tesoro Corporation came to Utah in September 2001 when it bought the interests of Amoco Oil Company from BP-Amoco. (SEC information) (Press release) The $677 million purchase included refineries in Utah, North Dakota. Tesoro had previously bought refinery facilities in Hawaii.
Tesoro had sold off its small crude oil exploration and production business in 1999 because it was clear the company would never have the scale to compete against the much larger major oil companies. At about the same time, the large companies were in a merger frenzy and government antitrust regulators were requiring newly merged companies to spin off some of their newly combined assets, including refineries at below-market prices. Tesoro began buying them and by May 2006 owned six facilities in Alaska, California, Hawaii, North Dakota, Utah, and Washington State.
The following comes from Tesoro's own web site, as of late August 2011:
Tesoro's Salt Lake City refinery began operations in 1908 and is now the largest in Utah with a total crude-oil capacity of 58,000 barrels per day.
The refinery processes crude oil from Utah, Colorado, Wyoming and Canada to manufacture gasoline, diesel fuel, jet fuel, heavy fuel oils and liquefied petroleum gas. These products are distributed through a system of terminals and pipelines, primarily to high-growth markets in Utah, Idaho and eastern Washington, with some product delivered to Nevada and Wyoming. The refinery also supplies jet fuel to the Salt Lake City International Airport.
The refinery supplies Shell-branded retail locations, as well as more than 40 company-owned Tesoro and Mirastar stations and 115 Tesoro-branded stations in Utah, Idaho, Wyoming, Nevada and western Colorado.
Salt Lake City Refinery (Chevron)
- 2351 N 1100 W, Salt Lake City
- Built in 1948
The Chevron Salt Lake City Refinery began operation in 1948 after the discovery of the Rangely crude oil field in Western Colorado. The refinery has run continuously as a 24-hour-per-day operation since startup in 1948, and currently employs about 200 workers. Crude oil, the refinery's major raw material, comes from Utah, Colorado, Wyoming, and Canada. Primary products produced at the facility include gasoline and other fuels, such as Jet-A, JP-8, and low-sulfur diesel. Minor products include stove oil, propane, and petroleum coke. Several small processing plants compose the fully integrated Salt Lake City Refinery. Each of these plants plays an important role in making finished products. Each of the plants processes light hydrocarbons, such as propane, butane, and pentane. (U. S. Department of Energy; link)
Chevron operates two pipelines to its Salt Lake City refinery. One comes from Kimball Junction in Summit County, Utah, and the other comes from Rangely, Colorado.
In 2005, the City of North Salt Lake renewed its efforts to annex the land that the Chevron refinery sits on in southern Davis County. Several times in the 1960s and 1980s, the city tried to annex the land, but Chevron always put forth efforts to block the action, due mostly to the 70 percent higher tax rate the city has over unincorporated county tax rates. (Deseret News, January 7, 2005)
Chevron operates a pipeline between Salt Lake City and Boise.
North Salt Lake Refinery (Flying J)
- 333 W Center St., North Salt Lake
- Built in 1949 by Western States Refining Company (Beeline brand)
- Sold to Frontier Oil Refining Company in October 1959 (Frontier brand)
- Sold to Husky Oil in 1967
- Sold to Flying J, Inc. in January 1985
- Sold to Big West Oil, LLC (Flying J subsidiary) in 1998
The Flying J refinery was built by Western States Refining Company in 1949 in response to a new law in 1946 that made government oil available to small independent refineries. The refinery's initial production came from the Rangely-Salt Lake City pipeline, and its rated capacity was 2500 barrels per day. By 1963, that capacity had been increased to 7500 barrels per day, and the refinery was owned by Frontier Refining Company, which operated the refinery as the Beeline Refinery. (Utah's Black Gold, page 307)
Western States Refining Company sold its petroleum products under the Beeline brand. After the refinery was sold to Frontier Oil in 1958, the some stations sold only the Frontier brand (Herm Miller's Frontier Station in Murray, circa 1958), while some stations continued to sell Beeline gasoline. As late as 1963, Frontier continued to use the Beeline brand, side by side with its own Frontier brand..
Among the gas pump globe collectors, Beeline brand gasoline is shown as being sold from 1946 to 1965.
Frontier Oil was sold to Husky Oil in 1967. (Husky Energy web site)
Husky Oil, Ltd., a Canadian corporation, announced that it planned to sell its U.S. subsidiary, Husky Oil Company. (New York Times, September 5, 1981)
Husky Oil was a Canadian company. It merged with Marathon Oil in 1984, and sold all of its U.S. assets in late 1984. The Salt Lake City, Cheyenne, and Cody refineries were sold to Flying J, along with Husky's pipeline from Wyoming to Nebraska, and 550 Husky retail outlets and 40 Husky gasoline stations and truck stops.
At the time of a planned merger with Denver-based Inland Resources in 1999, Flying J was the nation's largest marketer of diesel fuel, had 10,000 employees, and operated 117 travel plazas in 41 states and one Canadian province. An additional 13 travel plazas were to be opened during 1999. (Deseret News, January 22, 1999)
The roots of Flying J, Inc. started in 1937 when Reuel Call opened a gas station in Afton, Wyoming. By 2006, there were 175 Maverik stores throughout the Western U.S. and Canada. The Maverik brand was founded by Reuel Call in Afton, Wyoming, in 1928 and by 2012 had grown to nearly 250 stores in 10 states to become the largest independent fuel marketer in the Intermountain West, wih 3,700 employees. In the same mid 1960s period, Jay Call, Reuel's nephew, opened his first Flying J truck stop and travel plaza. During 2005, there were 160 Flying J truck stop/travel plazas, in 40 states and Canada. (Wall Street Journal/Denver Post, May 5, 2006; Conveinience Store News, October 3, 2012)
The Flying J name came from its founder, O. Jay Call, who was an avid pilot.
"In 1986, Flying J made its next major move, more than tripling its annual sales with the $70 million purchase of the U.S. refining and retail operations from Canada's Husky Oil Ltd. The purchase included a 35,000 barrel-per-day refinery in Cheyenne, Wyoming; a pipeline stretching from Wyoming to Nebraska; and a refinery in Salt Lake City, Utah with a capacity of 14,000 barrels per day, as well as a closed refinery, capable of 15,000 barrels per day, in Cody, Wyoming. The purchase also gave Flying J some 550 retail outlets and 40 gasoline stations and truck stops under the Husky brand name. The acquisition made Flying J the largest independent oil company in the northwest." (Funding Universe Company Histories; link)
Big West Oil, LLC, was shown in government documents as a subsidiary of Flying J, Inc. as early as October 1998 (registered to do business in California on October 29, 1998; registered to do business in Wyoming on November 12, 1998).
Big West Oil, as a subsidiary of Flying J, purchased the Bakersfield refinery in 2005, and the Longhorn Pipeline in 2006. (Salt Lake Tribune, August 7, 2009)
From Big West Oil's web site:
Big West Oil LLC is a wholly owned subsidiary of Flying J Inc. Big West operates a 31,000 barrel per day refinery located in North Salt Lake, Utah. The refinery processes crude oils produced in Utah, Wyoming, Colorado, and Canada. Big West produces a full range of petroleum products including gasoline, diesel, liquid petroleum gases, wax products, and fuel oil. These products are marketed in Utah, Southern Idaho, Western Wyoming, Western Colorado, and Eastern Nevada.
Through its subsidiary, Big West of California LLC, the company owns and operates a 68,000 barrel per day refinery in Bakersfield, California. The refinery is supplied by local California crude oils produced in the San Joaquin Valley and the Los Angeles Basin. Big West of California primarily markets finished motor fuel products in the Bakersfield and Fresno areas. The refinery is also a large supplier of gas oil products to other refiners.
December 22, 2008
Due to the collapse of crude oil prices, and severe tightening of financial markets, Flying J, Inc., filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. At the time of its voluntary bankruptcy, Flying J had 16,000 employees and was number 16 in the list of top 20 largest private companies in the nation. Flying J operated 250 truck stop/travel plazas in 41 states and six Canadian provinces. In addition to its travel plazas, Flying J also owned 200 wells in the Uinta Basin in Utah, and the Williston Basin in eastern Montana, as well as the Longhorn 80,00-gallons-per-day pipeline between Houston and El Paso. The company also operated oil refineries in North Salt Lake, Utah, and Bakersfield, California. Flying J, Inc. was founded in 1968. (Salt Lake Tribune, December 29, 2008; January 10, 2009)
All of the 220 Flying J Travel Plazas were sold to Pilot Travel Plazas, and renamed as Pilot Flying J to keep them separate from already existing Pilot Travel Plazas. Flying J retained its oil and refining, banking, & insurance businesses, along with its interest in the Crystal Inns motel chain. To avoid confusion about company names, Flying J was renamed as FJ Management, Inc. Cyrstal Inn had been started in 1994 as a partnership between Jay Call and his daughter Cyrstall Call Maggelet.
Flying J sold its Longhorn Pipeline in Texas, and its Bakersfield refinery was being sold, along with the already announced sale of its travel plazas to Pilot Travel Plazas. There were alos plans to sell the North Salt Lake refinery, with its capacity of 30,000 barrels of crude oil per day. (Salt Lake Tribune, October 26, 2009)
The sale of the Flying J travel plazas was finalized, when Pilot Travel Centers was merged with Flying J Travel Plazas. To avoid confusion, Pilot changed its name to Pilot Flying J, and Flying J changed its name to FJ Management, keeping a 12 percent stake in the new Pilot Flying J. (Salt Lake Tribune, July 8, 2010; July 29, 2010)
Flying J emerged from bankruptcy after paying all of its creditors in full, through the sale of its travel centers, its pipeline, and its refinery in California. The Longhorn Pipeline was sold in July 2009 to Magellan Midstream Partners, which in turn sold the pipeline in December 2009 to El Paso Corp. The Bakersfield refinery was sold in May 2010 to Alon USA Energy Inc. (Salt Lake Tribune, July 29, 2010)
Flying J, Inc., finalized the sale of an 88 percent stake in its Flying J Travel Plazas to Pilot Travel Centers LLC on June 30, 2010, retaining a 12 percent interest. The former Flying J travel plazas were renamed as Pilot Flying J. (Ogden Standard Examiner, July 1, 2010)
FJ Management purchased the Maverik chain of gas retail and convenience stores. Maverik stores was started in the mid 1960s by Jay Call's (Flying J founder) uncle, Reuel Call.
Maverik was founded by Reuel Call in Afton, Wyoming, in 1928 and by 2012 had grown to nearly 250 stores in 10 states to become the largest independent fuel marketer in the Intermountain West, wih 3,700 employees. (Conveinience Store News, October 3, 2012)
Woods Cross Refinery (Phillips 66)
- 393 S 800 W, Woods Cross
- Built in 1932 by Wasatch Oil Refining Company (Golden Eagle and Wasatch brand gasoline)
- Sold to Phillips 66 in 1947-1948
- Sold to Holly Corporation in June 2003
The Phillips 66 refinery in Woods Cross was constructed in 1932 by the newly organized William Yeates Company, with a reported capacity of 1000 barrels per day. The refinery used a newly developed method of cracking crude petroleum, but upon initial operation in late 1932, there were problems. The refinery's first supplier was Skelly Oil of Tulsa, Oklahoma, which also helped the refinery overcome its refining problems. Soon after operations of the refinery began, the Yeates company changed its name to Wasatch Oil Refining Company. The Wasatch company expanded with a new refinery (Idaho Refining Co.) in Pocatello, Idaho in 1937, and another in Spokane, Wash., (Inland Empire Refineries) in 1938. In 1947-1948, Phillips Petroleum bought the interests and assets of Wasatch Oil Company, including the Woods Cross refinery. At the time that Phillips bought the refinery, it had a capacity of 4200 barrels per day, and by 1963, it had expanded to 15,500 barrels per day. Most of the refinery's crude was delivered by way of the Salt Lake Pipe Line Company's pipeline from Rangely, Colorado. (Utah's Black Gold, page 305)
For railroad operations, Idaho Refining Company used the IRX reporting mark, with available information showing that the IRX mark was active from January 1941 until April 1947, and again as Wasatch Oil Company, Idaho Division, from January 1950 to July 1954. Also in 1950-1952 there was a WOX reporting mark. Although the information states that this mark was assigned to General American Transportation, which may be correct as far as AAR interchange rules go, Ralph Gochnour recalls that the WOX mark was in fact used on cars assigned to Wasatch Oil Company. (These dates come from the issue of the Official Railway Equipment Register showing the reporting mark, and may not be complete as to the range of years the cars were actually operated.)
Phillips, based in Bartlesville, Oklahoma, bought the Salt Lake refinery in 1947. It was the smallest of the company's 10 refineries and supplied about 13 percent of the retail market in northern Utah and southern Idaho. (Deseret News, June 26, 2002)
In 1991 Phillips announced that they were considering selling the Woods Cross refinery. At that time, the refinery employed 129 people, and the associated terminals and retail gas stations employed another 118 people. The Woods Cross refinery had a reported capacity of 25,000 BCD, which was eight percent of the company's national refining capacity. Included in company assets were a truck loading rack in Woods Cross, 50 percent ownership of two product terminals in Boise and Burley, Idaho, and the company's 12 retail outlets in the Salt Lake City area. Phillips acquired the Woods Cross refinery in 1948 as part of its purchase of Wasatch Oil Company. (Deseret News, June 2, 1991)
By late 1991, Phillips Petroleum Co. was number 28 in the list of global oil companies. "Phillips, with a relatively high debt burden, wants to sell at least $500 million in assets over three years, and has already sold three tankers. It tried earlier this year to sell its Woods Cross refinery in Utah, but took it off the market because the company did not receive any acceptable offers." (New York Times, December 24, 1991)
On June 1, 2003, Holly Corporation acquired from ConocoPhillips the Woods Cross Refinery located in Woods Cross, Utah, approximately 10 miles north of Salt Lake City, Utah. Holly also acquired related assets that include petroleum products terminals in Spokane, Wash., and in Boise and Burley, Idaho, along with retail service stations located in Utah and Wyoming. The total cash purchase price was reported as $58.3 million, and was part of the divestiture of assets to improve competition after the Conoco Phillips merger.
The Woods Cross Refinery is being operated by Holly Refining & Marketing Company, a wholly owned subsidiary of Holly Corporation. The Woods Cross refinery has a crude oil capacity of 25,000 barrels per day, and processes primarily sweet crude oils into high value light products. For the period from June 1, 2003 to December 31, 2003, the Woods Cross Refinery processed approximately 22,500 barrels per day of crude oil.
The Woods Cross Refinery currently obtains its supply of crude oil primarily from suppliers in Canada, Wyoming, Utah and Colorado via common carrier pipeline, which runs from the Canadian border through Wyoming to the refinery. Its primary markets include Utah, Idaho and Wyoming where it distributes its products largely through a network of Phillips 66 branded marketers. The purchase of the Woods Cross Refinery also included certain pipelines and other transportation assets used in connection with the refinery, and a 10-year exclusive license to market fuels under the Phillips brand in the states of Utah, Wyoming, Idaho and Montana. The retail stores are branded as "Kicks 66".
The majority of the light refined products produced at the Woods Cross Refinery currently are delivered to customers in the Salt Lake City area via the truck rack at the refinery. Remaining volumes are shipped via pipelines owned by ChevronTexaco Corporation to numerous terminals, including the Company's terminals at Boise and Burley, Idaho and Spokane, Washington. The Holly Corporation estimates that the other four refineries in Utah that compete with its Woods Cross Refinery have a combined capacity to process approximately 140,000 BPD of crude oil. These five refineries collectively supply an estimated 70 percent of the gasoline and distillate products consumed in the states of Utah and Idaho, with the remainder imported from refineries in Wyoming and Montana via the Pioneer Pipeline owned jointly by Sinclair and ConocoPhillips.
The following comes from Holly Corporation, dated March 17, 2010:
On June 1, 2003 we acquired the Woods Cross Refinery, located near Salt Lake City, Utah, and related assets, from ConocoPhillips. The purchase also included a refined products terminal in Spokane, Washington, a 50% ownership interest in refined products terminals in Boise and Burley, Idaho, 25 retail service stations located in Utah and Wyoming, and a 10-year exclusive license to market fuels under the Phillips 66 brand in the states of Utah, Wyoming, Idaho and Montana. The total cash purchase price, including inventory and related expenses and liabilities assumed was $58.3 million. In August 2003, we sold the 25 retail service stations for $7.0 million, less our prorated share of property taxes and certain transaction expenses, plus $1.8 million for inventories, resulting in net cash proceeds of $8.5 million. We continue to supply the retail stations with fuel from our Woods Cross Refinery under a long-term supply agreement.
The Woods Cross Refinery has a crude oil capacity of 31,000 BPSD and is located in Woods Cross, Utah. The Woods Cross Refinery processes regional sweet and black wax crude as well as Canadian sour crude oils into high value light products. For 2009, gasoline and diesel fuel (excluding volumes purchased for resale) represented 64% and 28%, respectively, of the Woods Cross Refinery's sales volumes. The Woods Cross Refinery facility is located on a 200-acre site and is a fully integrated refinery with crude distillation, solvent deasphalter, FCC, HF alkylation, catalytic reforming, hydrodesulfurization, isomerization, sulfur recovery and product blending units. Other supporting infrastructure includes approximately 1.5 million barrels of feedstock and product tankage of which 0.2 million barrels of tankage are owned by HEP, maintenance shops, warehouses and office buildings. The operating units at the Woods Cross Refinery include newly constructed units, older units that have been relocated from other facilities, upgraded and re-erected in Woods Cross, and units that have been operating as part of the Woods Cross facility (with periodic major maintenance) for many years, in some very limited cases since before 1950. The crude oil capacity of the Woods Cross Refinery is 31,000 BPSD and the facility typically processes or blends an additional 2,000 BPSD of natural gasoline, butane and gas oil. The Woods Cross Refinery completed a major maintenance turnaround in September 2008.
The Woods Cross Refinery is one of five refineries located in Utah. We estimate that the four refineries that compete with our Woods Cross Refinery have a combined capacity to process approximately 150,000 BPD of crude oil. The five Utah refineries collectively supply an estimated 70% of the gasoline and distillate products consumed in the states of Utah and Idaho, with the remainder imported from refineries in Wyoming and Montana via the Pioneer Pipeline owned jointly by Sinclair and ConocoPhillips. The Woods Cross Refinery's primary markets include Utah, Idaho, Nevada, Wyoming and eastern Washington. Approximately 50% - 55% of the gasoline and diesel fuel produced by our Woods Cross Refinery is sold through a network of Phillips 66 branded marketers under a long-term supply agreement.
The Utah market for refined products is currently supplied primarily by a number of local refiners and the Pioneer Pipeline. Local area refiners include Woods Cross, Chevron, Tesoro, Big West and Silver Eagle. Other refiners that ship via the Pioneer Pipeline include Sinclair, ExxonMobil and ConocoPhillips. We supply approximately 15% - 20% of the refined products consumed in the Utah market, to branded and unbranded customers.
Our Woods Cross Refinery ships refined products over Chevron's common carrier pipeline system to numerous terminals, including HEP's terminals at Boise and Burley, Idaho and Spokane, Washington and to terminals at Pocatello and Boise, Idaho and Pasco, Washington that are owned by Northwest Terminalling Pipeline Company. We sell to branded and unbranded customers in these markets. We also truck refined products to Las Vegas, Nevada.
The Woods Cross Refinery currently obtains its supply of crude oil primarily from suppliers in Canada, Wyoming, Utah and Colorado via common carrier pipelines that originate in Canada, Wyoming and Colorado. In 2009, we also began receiving crude oil via the SLC Pipeline, a joint venture common carrier pipeline in which HEP owns a 25% interest. Supplies of black wax crude oil are shipped via truck.
Under a definitive agreement with Sinclair, we are jointly building the UNEV Pipeline, a 12-inch refined products pipeline from Salt Lake City, Utah to Las Vegas, Nevada, together with terminal facilities in the Cedar City, Utah and North Las Vegas areas. Under the agreement, we own a 75% interest in the joint venture pipeline with Sinclair, our joint venture partner, owning the remaining 25% interest. The initial capacity of the pipeline will be 62,000 BPD, with the capacity for further expansion to 120,000 BPD. The total cost of the pipeline is expected to be $275 million, with our share of the cost totaling $206 million. We expect to spend approximately $80 million in capital costs in 2010, with our share of the cost totaling $60 million. We currently anticipate that all regulatory approvals required to commence the construction of the UNEV Pipeline will be received by the end of the second quarter of 2010. Once such approvals are received, construction of the pipeline will take approximately nine months. Under this schedule, the pipeline would become operational during the first quarter of 2011.
Woods Cross Refinery (Silver Eagle)
- 2355 S 1100 W, Woods Cross
- Built in 1954 by Sure-Seal Corporation (wax refinery)
- Sold to W. M. Barnes Company in September 1955
- Sold to Petroflex Corporation in (?) (late 1950s)
- Sold to Frontier Oil Refining/Beeline in 1961
- Sold to Crysen Refining in about May 1982
- Sold to Inland Refining in December 1997
- Sold to Silver Eagle Refining in January 2000
The second oil refinery in Woods Cross started as a wax refinery to refine wax from crude oil. The crude oil recently discovered in Uintah Basin, specifically the Duchesene Pool and Flat Mesa Pool, was found to be 40 to 50 percent wax, and after developing a process that successfully extracted the wax, M. E. Wells of Salt Lake City organized the Sure-Seal Corporation in about 1945. He developed the extraction process in a laboratory in Murray, and later at a facility near the Salt Lake City airport. That facility was having delivered to it, railroad tank cars of waxy crude from Pennsylvania at the cost of $112 per car. After testing, the recently discovered Uintah Basin crude was found to have superior quality of wax content than the Pennsylvania crude oil, producing a wax product with a low melting point particularly suited for home canning and other similar uses. A 13.5-acre plot was purchased immediately north of the Woods Cross terminal of Salt Lake Pipeline Company to be close enough for crude oil to be delivered economically by heated trucks. (Salt Lake Pipeline Company served as a common carrier pipeline from its eastern terminal in Uintah Basin.) Construction of the new wax refinery was to start in late September 1953, with completion planned for mid 1954. Ground breaking on September 18, 1953 was attended by Utah Governor J. Bracken Lee, among other business and political leaders. (Vernal Express, July 17, 1952; April 16, 1953; September 17, 1953; September 24, 1953)
The process to extract the commercial grade waxes from the Uintah Basin waxy crude oil, produced by-products for sale in other markets. These other products included jet fuel (good gravity kerosene), "slop oil", light oil, heavy oil, and the final desired "bottoms" product which was refined through a Methyl-Ethyl-Keotene de-oiling, or de-asphalting, process to obtain the waxes. This final MEK de-oiling was the heart of the wax refining process. (Vernal Express, December 17, 1953)
Sure-Seal entered a court appointed receivership in December 1954, at the same time as the completion of the Woods Cross wax refinery. At the time of the receivership, the company's operations were from the "old" plant at the Salt Lake City Municipal Airport, and the new Woods Cross plant was being maintained in stand by. The court appointed receiver was Tracy-Collins Trust Company of Salt Lake City. (Vernal Express, January 27, 1955)
Operations of Sure-Seal Corporation's plant in Salt Lake City, and the new refinery in Woods Cross were taken over by W. M. Barnes Company of Los Angeles, California, with an option to purchase both facilities. Barnes stated that he intended to produce 60 tank cars of three major types of wax per month, including high melting point paraffin waxes, low melting point paraffin waxes, and microcrystalline waxes. The Barnes company was an engineering and contracting company who had built refineries all across the U. S. and in Belgium and Italy. Sure-Seal ran into financial difficulties after spending $1 million trying to develop a process the extract the microcrystalline waxes, and Barnes was scheduling a deasphalting plant to be built starting in February 1956 that would solve Sure-Seal's production problems. A contract had been signed with Carter Oil Company of Tulsa, Oklahoma, to buy the entire output of the Duchesene Pool and part of the Roosevelt Pool for sole use by the Barnes refinery. Both oil fields were well known for producing high wax content petroleum. Several carloads of paraffin wax were being shipped per week to paper and milk carton manufacturers. The wax refinery employed 75 to 100 persons, most of whom were former Sure-Seal employees. Chicago Bridge and Iron Company of Salt Lake City had been put under contract to construct one 10,000 barrel storage tank and one 5,000 barrel storage tank to hold the microcrystalline waxes pending completion of the propane deasphalter to process the troublesome microcrystalline waxes. (Vernal Express, January 5, 1956, lifted from Salt Lake Tribune)
The sale of Sure-Seal Corporation assets to W. M. Barnes Company was finalized in mid September 1955. The Woods Cross plant had not yet been put into production, with Barnes promising to spend $500,000 to do so. Purchase price was put at $1.3 million. (Vernal Express, September 29, 1955)
(More research is needed for the time period between early 1956 and early 1961, since the refinery apparently changed owners from W. M. Barnes to Petroflex Corporation.)
In February 1961 the wax refinery was the subject of an engineering survey by the Frontier Oil Refining Company's Beeline Division, to determine potential uses for the former Petroflex Corporation's wax refinery at Woods Cross, which was also shown as being the former Sure-Seal wax refinery at the same location. Petroflex Corporation had recently granted Beeline a 10 year lease with an option to purchase the refinery. The article in the Vernal Express stated that Petroflex had recently produced both waxes and jet fuel at the refinery and that the Petroflex plant could be used to produce asphalts, gasolines, lube oils and waxes. (Vernal Express, February 16, 1961) Frontier Oil Refining Company had purchased Western States Oil Refining Company in October 1959, changing the name to its Beeline Division, taking the name from Western's brand of gasoline.
(More research is needed for the time period between early 1961 and late 1997, since the refinery apparently changed owners from Frontier Oil to Crysen Refining.)
On December 31, 1997, Inland Refining, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Inland Resources Inc., acquired from Crysen Refining, Inc. the oil refinery and related assets, inventory and receivables owned by Crysen in Woods Cross, Utah for a purchase price of $17.5 million. The Woods Cross Refinery is located on approximately 42 acres in Woods Cross, Utah. The Woods Cross Refinery has an overall crude capacity of approximately 12,500 barrels per day ("BPD"), but its current  effective crude capacity is approximately 8,500 BPD due to the mix of crude feedstocks being processed. The Woods Cross Refinery does not have a catalytic cracker. Consequently, it is able to process approximately 30 percent of a barrel of the Company's Blax Wax crude into high end petroleum products (e.g., gasoline, diesel, military jet fuel) with the remaining approximately 70 percent being processed into low end petroleum products (e.g. waxes, tar, asphalt). The Woods Cross Refinery currently  processes Wyoming Sweet, Black Wax, Yellow Wax, Nevada Asphaltic, California Santa Maria, and Canadian crudes, and its products produced include all grades of motor gasoline, kerosene, #1 diesel, #2 diesel, waxes, heavy vacuum gas oil, road asphalt, air blown asphalt and polymerized asphalt. The refinery has the capability to receive and ship crude and product by rail car and truck, receives crude oil via the Amoco and Chevron pipelines, and ships crude and product via the Chevron pipeline. The refinery has a 485,000 barrel capacity of tankage on site. (SEC filings; link)
Inland and Flying J announced an intended merger in January 1999. The merger was called off in May 1999. (Deseret News, January 22, 1999; August 29, 1999)
Inland Refining, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Inland Resources, was sold to Silver Eagle Refining, Inc., on January 31, 2000. Inland Refining owned the Woods Cross Refinery and a non-operating refinery located in Roosevelt, Utah. The Woods Cross Refinery was originally purchased on December 31, 1997 for $22.9 million and the Roosevelt refinery was originally purchased on September 16, 1998 for $2.25 million. The sales price was $500,000, plus certain assets, liabilities and obligations. In May 2000, Inland signed a letter of intent to purchase the North Salt Lake refinery of Flying J, but the sale was not completed. (SEC filings; link)
Major Oil Pipelines:
- Utah Oil Co. (BP Amoco) (8-inch oil)
- Frontier Pipeline Co. (16-inch oil)
- Chevron Pipeline Co. (10-inch oil)
- Pioneer Pipeline Co. (Conoco Phillips) (8-inch oil)
- Phillips Pipeline Co. (6-inch oil, 6-inch products)
In 1963, it was estimated that 60 percent of the production of the four large refineries were sold in neighboring states. Pipelines had served the inbound shipment of crude oil very well, and common carrier pipelines continue to give the Utah refineries access to out-of-state markets. These common carrier pipelines carry a wide range of products, such as gasoline, diesel fuel, jet fuel, and all sorts of other refinery products, all in quantities of thousands of barrels per day.
Utah Oil Company (BP Amoco)
The first oil pipeline in Utah was completed in 1939 by Utah Oil Company (later Amoco) and built to transport oil from wells in Colorado and Wyoming, to its refinery in Salt Lake City. In 1948, the Salt Lake Pipe Line Co., a subsidiary of Standard Oil of California (later Chevron), built a pipeline from the Rangley field in Colorado, to its refinery at the south end of Davis County. In 1951, a branch extension of this later pipeline was added to bring oil to Salt Lake City from the Red Wash and Walker Hollow fields in Uintah Basin. By the early 1960s, the Rangely-Salt Lake City pipeline had been improved and its capacity was put at 72,000 barrels per day. (Utah's Black Gold, pages 301-303)
Salt Lake Pipeline Co.
Terminal located at 900 West 2600 South, Woods Cross
In 1950 a common carrier pipeline was completed north from the refineries to Pasco, Washington, a distance of 569 miles. In 1963, this pipeline had a reported daily capacity of 15,000 barrels. The pipeline's owner, Salt Lake Pipe Line Company, continued to expand capacity and in 1953, extended the pipeline further north to Spokane. In 1963 the capacity was put at 56,000 barrels per day. In a railroad-related side note, when it was constructed in 1950, the Salt Lake Pipe Line was laid along the abandoned right of way of the original Central Pacific transcontinental railroad between Hot Springs, just north of Ogden, north to Corinne. (Utah's Black Gold, page 307)
Pioneer Pipeline Co. (Conoco Phillips)
Terminal located at 400 West Center Street, North Salt Lake
In 1952 Continental Oil Company (Conoco) built the Pioneer Pipeline as a joint venture with Sinclair Oil Corporation. The initial capacity was 10,000 barrels per day. First oil reached the North Salt Lake terminal on January 3, 1953. The pipeline is owned 65 percent by Continental Oil, and 35 percent by Sinclair Oil. (Clipper, August 3, 1953)
August 16, 1953
"SALT LAKE CITY, Aug. 15 -- Following a simple ceremony likened in significance to the driving of the golden spike on the nation's first transcontinental railroad, gasoline and other refinery products flowed this week through the $8,300,000 eight-inch transmission line of the Pioneer Pipe Line Company across 290 mountainous miles from Sinclair, Wyo., to North Salt Lake City. The line, first refinery products carrier to cross the Continental Divide, is likewise the final link in a network at last enabling the flow of gasoline from the East Coast to the Western Seaboard -- a "reversible" artery deemed of major importance in a defense emergency. A joint venture af the Continental Oil Company and the Sinclair Pipe Line Company, the products line has a 12,000-barrel-a-day capacity, which can be expanded to 18,000 barrels daily by addition of another pumping station at Pilot Butte, Wyo. At Salt Lake City the new line connects with the three-year-old Salt Lake Pipe Line Company transmission system leading to Pasco, Wash., on the Columbia River, which is to be extended to Spokane." (New York Times, August 16, 1953)
Pioneer Pipe Line Co., a company providing one-third of the motor fuels used in northern Utah, is expanding and will increase the available gasoline, diesel fuel and jet fuel in the Salt Lake area by 25,000 barrels per day. The present capacity is 40,000 barrels per day. The pipeline carries fuels to North Salt Lake terminals from the Sinclair Oil refinery at Sinclair, Wyo., east of Rawlins. Refineries in Billings, Mont., and Casper, Wyo., through connecting pipelines, also use the Pioneer pipeline to carry fuel to North Salt Lake.The expansion is possible by a combination of increased pump horsepower, introduction of a flow improver additive and modifications to the pipeline. The initial phase will increase the capacity by 15,000 barrels per day. (Deseret News, August 9, 1996)
In 2000, Conoco and Sinclair Oil Corporation, joint owners, expanded the Pioneer Pipeline between Sinclair, Wyo. and Croydon, Utah, a project that was to enable the line to transport an additional million gallons a day into Salt Lake City. Conoco was then the operating partner of the line. The expansion project was announced in August 2000. Conoco and Sinclair were to invest more than $70 million to expand the line's capacity from two to three million gallons per day. The expansion used the pipeline's existing corridor parallel to Interstate Highway 80 from Sinclair, Wyo., into Utah. The pipeline transports gasoline, diesel and jet fuel from Sinclair's refinery in Sinclair and from refineries owned by Conoco and others in Billings, Mont., by way of the Sinclair refinery.
The expanded pipeline carried its first increased product load in mid February 2001. (Deseret News, February 17, 2001)
The Pioneer Pipeline carries light petroleum products to Northern Utah. Conoco operates the Pioneer Pipeline and connected terminals. By virtue of its majority stake and operations, Conoco controls the pricing of light petroleum products on the Pioneer Pipeline.
Phillips and Conoco were direct competitors in Northern Utah. Phillips owns a refinery and Conoco owns a pipeline that provide bulk supplies of light petroleum products into Northern Utah. Together, Phillips and Conoco accounted for about 25 percent of the light petroleum products bulk supply capacity in Northern Utah.
As part of the 2002 merger of Phillips and Conoco, Conoco retained its pipeline and Phillips sold its Woods Cross refinery.
Refinery capacity as of mid 1990s:
- Amoco at Salt Lake City (45,000 BCD)
- Chevron at North Salt Lake (45,000 BCD)
- Phillips 66 at Woods Cross (20,000 BCD)
- Flying J at North Salt Lake (15,000 BCD)
- (Source: Union Pacific Salt Lake Route, by Mark W. Hemphill, Boston Mills, 1995, page 131)
As of 2000:
Utah oil fields have produced a total of 1.2 billion barrels. However, the 15 million barrels of production in 2000 was the lowest level in over 40 years and continued the steady decline that began in the mid-1980s. (Source)
As of 2000 (from Utah Industries of the Future):
Utah Petroleum Sector: At 483 million dollars value, the petroleum and coal products sector is a significant portion of Utah's industrial product. Utah has 5 petroleum refineries with a total combined crude capacity of 158,500 barrels/day. The refineries received 48,492 thousand barrels of crude in 1997. Of this, 13,747 barrels were produced in Utah the rest from neighboring Colorado, Wyoming, Montana, Nevada and New Mexico. Utah's refining capacity is about 1% of the total national capacity, but is significant for the region accounting for 29% of the PAD district IV operating capacity (EIA January 2000).
Utah Refineries: All five refineries are located near Salt Lake City. Utah's refineries are small in comparison to the 200,000 -- 500,000 bpd refineries in the big oil refining states of California, Louisiana, and Texas but they are typical for the mountain region. The largest Utah refinery is BP at 58,000 barrels/day followed by Chevron at 48,000. Phillips 66 and Big West have similar capacities -- 25,000 and 24,000 respectively. BP recently announced its intention to sell the Salt Lake refinery [now owned by Tesoro - ed.], which employs about 190, along with similarly sized plants in North Dakota and Virginia.
Number of Active Fields/Wells: 10 fields/88 wells (Utah Division of Oil, Gas and Mining, 2001).
As of 1988, Utah had the following refinery capacity (total 152,500 Barrels/Day):
- Chevron USA Inc., 2351 N 1100 W, Salt Lake City (45,000 B/D)
- Amoco Oil Co., 474 W 900 N, Salt Lake City (40,000 B/D)
- Phillips 66 Co., 800 W 500 S, Woods Cross (24,000 B/D)
- Big West Oil Co. (subsidiary of Flying J), 333 W Center St., North Salt Lake (24,000 B/D)
- Crysen Corporation, 2355 S 1100 W, Woods Cross (11,500 B/D)
- Seagull Refining, Roosevelt, (8,000 B/D)
- (Source: 1988 National Petroleum News Factbook, courtesy of Norm Metcalf)
As of 2005, Utah had the following refinery distillation capacity of 167,350 Barrels Per Calendar Day (BCD):
- Tesoro Refining and Marketing, 474 W 900 N, Salt Lake City (58,000 BCD)
- Chevron USA Inc., 2351 N 1100 W, Salt Lake City (45,000 BCD)
- Holly Corp. Refining and Marketing, 800 W 500 S, Woods Cross (24,700 BCD)
- Big West Oil Co. (subsidiary of Flying J), 333 W Center St., North Salt Lake (24,400 BCD)
- Silver Eagle Refining, 2355 S 1100 W, Woods Cross (10,250 BCD)
Whether mergers are mainly an effect of Big Oil's conservatism or an enabler, they're under more scrutiny now that oil prices are sky-high. The merger wave of 1998-2001 united Exxon with Mobil, Chevron with Texaco, BP with Amoco and Arco, Conoco with Phillips, and France's Total with PetroFina and Elf. Jon Meade Huntsman, founder of chemicals maker Huntsman LLC in Salt Lake City, recalls warning people that mergers would lead to high oil prices. He says costly oil is damaging the chemical, airline, and trucking industries while enriching a handful of giant companies. Says Huntsman: "We've got a monopoly that's in effect more dangerous than during the Rockefeller era" of a century ago. (Business Week On Line, June 21, 2004)
2006 rankings: (DOE web site)
Harline, Osmond L. "Utah's Black Gold: The Petroleum Industry", Utah Historical Quarterly, Volume 31, Number 3, Summer 1963.