Operating since 1915, Shell Oil's Martinez Refinery is one of the world's most complex refineries, converting as many as 165 thousand barrels of crude oil per day into automotive gasoline, diesel, jet fuel, industrial fuel oils, petroleum coke, liquefied petroleum gas, sulfur, and asphalt.
The Shell Oil Terminal Martinez is located about 30 miles is just 1.4 kilometers south across the Carquinez Strait from the Port of Benicia in Martinez, California, in the United States. It is about 31 kilometers northeast of the Port of Oakland and 40 kilometers northeast of the Port of San Francisco.
In 1913, the Royal Dutch/Shell Group built a shipping terminal that would become the Shell Oil Terminal Martinez on the Carquinez Strait in Martinez for the purpose of importing and distributing gasoline along the United States' Pacific Coast. The company bought oil fields in the Central Valley of California. By 1915, Shell's first refinery and a 170-mile pipeline opened for business.
The first barrel of oil was processed at the Shell Oil Terminal Martinez refinery in 1916. The same year, it made oil production history when it applied innovative techniques to operate continuously, handling as much as 20 thousand barrels of crude oil per day. At that time, most of the products it produced were "heavy" products, and the Shell Oil Terminal Martinez refinery was a major supplier of lubricants for the West Coast of the United States.
In 1931, the company's first research laboratory and its first chemical plant were built at the Shell Oil Terminal Martinez facility. The facility continued to grow over the years and, in the mid-1960s, a new Light Oil Processing facility went online. The Shell Oil Terminal Martinez facility was a state-of-the-art refining facility with a catalytic cracker, a hydrocracker, and distillation units.
In 1983, the company finished an $800-million modernization of its refineries in California, much of which went to the Shell Oil Terminal Martinez refinery to make it the safest, most environmentally advanced facility in the world.
In 1997, the Shell Oil Terminal Martinez refinery Clean Fuels project was finished, enabling the refinery to comply with new State of California and United States regulations.
In 1998, Shell Oil Company and Texaco Inc. entered into a joint venture that gave the refinery a new name: the Martinez Refining Company. In 2002, Shell bought Texaco's share of the project and renamed the facility the Shell Martinez Refinery.