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Our history

Throughout the years, the Torrance Refinery has adapted to the times.

From the Great Depression, through World War II, the 70s energy crisis and other challenges of the 20th and 21st Centuries, the Torrance Refinery has served both California and the country. Along the way, it has pioneered the use of new technology to create the cleanest burning gasoline in the world.

  • 1929 — John Barneson's vision becomes reality.  The refinery quickly grows, becoming a leading South Bay employer during the Great Depression.
  • 1943 — With the war effort in full swing, the Torrance Refinery refocuses its energies on producing high-octane aviation fuel, helping American aviators to continually push the performance envelope.
  • 1965 — Modernization efforts result in an almost completely rebuilt refinery.
  • 1974 — While drivers line-up at the pumps, the refinery does its part by installing energy conservation equipment and a sulfur recovery plant. This environmental spirit continues in the 1980s, as a hydrotreater is proactively installed to reduce refinery emissions and produce cleaner fuels.
  • 1990s — Refinery efforts continue to maximize safety and efficiency, while minimizing emissions: a computerized control room is added; modified Hydrofluoric Acid, a chemical necessary for the refining process, is introduced to make it safer for workers and the community; and refining units are retooled to produce the cleaner burning gasoline mandated by the California Air Resources Board (CARB), the most stringent requirements in the world.
  • 2000 — Torrance is the first refinery to install a pollution control device on its fluid catalytic cracking (FCC) unit, significantly reducing emissions.
  • 2001 and beyond — Refining units continue to be enhanced to meet or exceed area-wide air initiatives and federal and state standards.
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