The Flywheel

Next Meeting: Friday, January 11

Report on our Madagascar Project

Madagascar hospital

Our own Liliane Koziol discusses this international project between the Richmond Rotary Club District 5160 and the Rotary Club Antananarivo-Ivandry district 9220 in Madegascar.

The project was a funding collaboration between two clubs to help provide medical equipment, furniture and a solar-water heater to the Centre Hospitalier de District de Niveau II of Itaosy, Antananarivo Madagascar.


Meeting of Friday, February 7

Welcome, Invocation, Thought for the Day

Richmond Rotarians and their guests gathered at the Chevron cafeteria after successfully finding Chevron Way and the Main Gate (not Gate 14 on Castro St.). Notable for who was not there, we can only speculate on how many Rotarians besides Jon Lawlis did not remember to bring a photo ID as required for entry. Several Rotarians used their Rotary connections and chutzpah to enter even though they did not sign up or signed up as little late, like one hour before the event. As we ate a hearty pipe fitter’s lunch of Chicken-in-Sauce (a Rotarian was heard to say, “I don’t think it’s glutton free), Prez Alan Baer called the meeting to order and introduced Rotarian and today’s Host, Heather Kulp, Community Relations Manager for the Chevron Richmond Refinery. Heather welcomed everyone to refinery, gave an over view description of the program and tour and introduced her Community Relations colleague Andrea Bailey, known to several Rotarians from her work with GRIP (Greater Richmond Interfaith Program). Heather also introduced our two program leaders and guides for the day, Chemical Engineer Tim Burchfield (Texas A&M) and Electrical Engineer Dan Beaton (Cal Poly SLO, Go Mustangs!). Your editor notes that these two bright eyed and bushy-tailed young men, who make a lot of environmentally important things happen every day, gave me pause to think that today’s bright and beautiful day had something to do with their engineering as well as the good weather. But then I remember the Southland in the ‘50s when clouds of asphalt smoke blew across Sepulveda Blvd. in Torrance and the hydrogen sulfide actually did make you gag. Things do change, sometimes for the better. We can only hope that Heather encourages Tim and Dan to come to Rotary from time to time.

So Tim and Dan gave a 25 minute talk about what happens to a barrel of Alaskan or Middle Eastern light crude that arrives at the Long Wharf and eventually leaves the refinery as either 1)75% of the jet fuel used at Bay Region airports; 2)25% of the ‘California’ gasoline used by the N. Calif. vehicle fleet; 3)100% of any of the lubricating oils made on the West Coast. More on this later under Program. That tour included a but trip around the entire refinery with non-stop descriptions form Tim who may have lost his voice because the bus PA system did not work.

Visiting Rotarians

Mac Lingo, Berkeley Rotary

Rotarians with Guests

Jim Young brought his lovely wife Linda who unsuccessfully tried to restrain talkative Mark and Stony with ‘teacher dirty looks’ directed at their ‘back of the bus’. Liliane Koziol brought her handsome husband Ken. Nabil Wahbeh brought his guest John Cola. Jim Klaczak was Henry Moe’s guest. Michael Gill brought his work associate Julie Boyer. Betsy Raymond was Margaret Morkowski’s guest and Jan Faegley came as the guest of Jerry Faegley who didn’t come because he was busy selling houses.

Sunshine Report

It was a very nice day at the refinery, but no Sunshine Report.


Fun-seeking members of the I-80 Rotary clubs (aka "BARSHEEP") are invited to Playland-Not-At-The-Beach Museum of Fun, on Thursday, February 10, 2011. Admission of $20 includes wine, beer, cheese and other snacks, and of course, socializing with members of these other clubs. Another good reason— play the historic pin-ball and arcade games, included in price of admission. See the flyer for more details

Special Events

This tour is the special event.


None today although it was nice to see Erle Brown’s daughter Lisa at the lunch as she works in the refinery’s Capital Projects unit.

Happy and Sad Dollars

None today.

Happy and Sad Dollars & Recognitions:

  • Stoney told a funny joke about a man who finds out he only has 12 hours to live. He makes love to his wife twice. When he asks to do it one more time, she says “Hey, I gotta get up in the morning.”  (Guess you had to be there.)
  • Beav got a donation out of David Brown and informed him that it was now time for a colonoscopy.
  • Paul Allen celebrated a new band that he established at his children’s school.

Norm’s Nonsense

This guy was on the beach in San Francisco shooting seagulls with a shotgun and putting them in a bag, when a cop arrested him and told him it was against the law to kill seagulls. The guy explained, "But I am homeless and these seagulls are the only food I have to eat."
Cop: "I'm taking you in and you can tell it to the Judge."

After hearing the shooter's tale of woe, the Judge said, "I'm going to let you go with a warning. You can't kill any wildlife in the city limits." Then the Judge got curious and asked, "Tell me, what does a seagull taste like?"
Guy: "It's sort of a cross between a bald eagle and a spotted owl."

PROGRAM of January 28

Tour of the Chevron Richmond Refinery

Chevon Refinery Richmond

Started in 1902 as Pacific Refining and currently at 3,000 acres the Chevron Richmond Refinery is the largest and oldest continuously operating economic enterprise in Richmond and West County, maybe the entire county. For this program report there will be a lot of bullet point factoids.

The old days at the refinery are marked by the two, turn of the last century brick administration buildings on Chevron Way which used to be the ‘main drag’ and public street to the San Rafael Ferry Terminal. In those days the refinery was at this south end of the property right next to Point Richmond. Over the century as the refinery grew and modernized, it has moved north toward San Pablo Bay and away from its nearest neighbors. On the tour we passed by the 10 story unfinished hulk of the Hydrogen Project where 1,200 highly paid and highly skilled works were building a much better solution for the refinery’s hydrogen feed stock which is essential to the process of converting low value hydrocarbons into high value transportation fuels. I mentioned that Dante-ian scene from the 1950s refinery belt in the LA basin. Chevron’s current hydrogen generator is from that same era, the Depression and WWII. At 70+ years old, it was build before Don Hardison’ joined Rotary. It is strange that in the name of ‘environmentalism’ an inefficient and potentially easy to break (compared to new) high energy chemical processing facility is considered more acceptable than a brand new $1B+ piece of machinery that will reduce fuel consumption (read reduce greenhouse gases) and reduce manufacturing cost pressure on end product production (read your gasoline and jet fuel) and provide cleaner air in the Bay Region for generations to come. What’s up with that? But then we are getting rid of plastic bags at all the taqueria’s on 23rd Street. Symbolic solutions vs. real problems. Which is better for Richmond and the Bay Region?

Like the mothballed Hydrogen Project and the 3,000 acres it sits on, everything about the refinery is big. The tour showed us an industrial landscape where things are made, a landscape along with value added productivity that is now rare in America. Other Factoids about the refinery include:

  • Safety is Job #1. This was said so many times and in so many places, it must be true. It was especially emphasized on the most dangerous part of the tour, going up and down the steps of the tour bus.

  • Chevron employees 10,000 people in the Bay Region including their global HQ in San Ramon. 1,200 people work at the refinery in 9 different operating companies. It was noticed that there were almost no workers anywhere in the refinery area during the tour. This is because the general, work force works a 10 hour day, four days a week M-Th. The work day is from 6 AM to 4 PM and every weekend is a three day weekend.
  • If I got this right, the Long Wharf is the longest wharf on the West Coast at 1 mile. It can simultaneously service four tankers and two barges which is an economic advantage for Chevron because they can turn their fleet of West Coast tankers faster than any other refinery in the region. All crude oil passes over the long wharf as Chevron receives no crude via pipe or rail car. Guide Tim said Chevron has never received crude oil via pipe, when asked if they refine oil from the Central Valley.
  • The refinery processes 240,000 barrels of oil a day (1 barrel = 42 gallons), 365 days a year, ‘24/7’. The refinery is one of five refineries in the world that makes ‘California gasoline’ which is a special concoction mandated by the State to reduce air pollution. It also supports Chevron markets in the Pacific Northwest, Southern California and Hawaii.
  • The refinery is a high efficiency, high value refinery compared to most similar facilities around the world. It converts 97% of crude oil input into transportation fuels and lubricating oil compared to 40% conversion at most other refineries.
  • The on-site cogeneration plant produces 100 Mega Watts of electricity and process steam for the distillation and cracking processes.
  • Guide Tim was particularly proud of the reverse osmosis tertiary water reclamation facility on site that allows most water to be recycled as process water and what is discharged to the Bay to meet all federal and state discharge standards.
  • Guide Tim pointed out the refinery’s flaring towers, five of them as we approached the Rod & Gun Club. He said to look at them now because they are hard to see from far away since the refinery had reduced flaring 97% since 2007. The flares are used as a controlled burn of high pressure oil and gas when there is a dangerous incident, power or machinery failure that could create a more dangerous fire in equipment. Chevron abandoned the industry practice of ‘flaring’ low value by-product years ago and instead uses its high efficiency operation to convert it to marketable high value products.

There was a lot to see and hear about. You should of been there! Thank you Heather Kulp and Chevron, for a hearty lunch and great special program.

- Rotating Editor, Jim Young