Posted by on September 19, 2017
Categories: Bay Area

( – Valero Energy Corp. announced Monday that it has given up its plan to take over an independent petroleum distribution terminal in Martinez and a smaller terminal in Richmond.

The San Antonio-based oil refinery company said it was deterred by an antitrust lawsuit filed in federal court in San Francisco this summer by California Attorney General Xavier Becerra, who claimed the sale would give
Valero undue control over gasoline prices.

Valero and the terminals’ current owner, Houston-based Plains All American Pipeline, said in a joint news release that the lawsuit caused too much uncertainty and potential expense.

“Plains and Valero have each decided that it is in their best interest to terminate the transaction rather than endure the continued uncertainty that a lengthy trial would create for the California-based employees and customers of the terminals, as well as the considerable expense associated with defending a taxpayer-funded lawsuit,” the two companies said.

Becerra called the announcement “welcome news for all Californians.”

“Simply put, we strongly believed that Valero’s action could have suffocated open competition and led to higher gas prices for hardworking Californians,” the attorney general said in a statement.

The facilities were the last independently owned petroleum distribution terminals in Northern California that were not controlled by a refinery company, according to Becerra.

Valero, which owns a refinery in Benicia, describes itself as the world’s largest independent petroleum refiner. Plains operates pipelines and terminals and does not own any refineries.

A trial on the lawsuit had been scheduled for January in the court of U.S. District Judge William Alsup.

In August, Alsup refused to grant a preliminary injunction blocking the sale before the trial.

But he said state lawyers had “raised serious questions regarding whether the proposed transaction will have anticompetitive effects in the market for bulk sales of gasoline and other light petroleum products in Northern California and Northern Nevada.”

The judge warned that Valero and Plains would “proceed entirely at their own risk” if they closed the sale before a final judgment in the case.