Valero Energy was not only named after a mission (the Mission San Antonio de Valero), it is on a mission to be the largest independent refiner in the US. Valero churns out about 2.9 million barrels per day, refining low-cost residual oil and heavy crude into cleaner-burning, higher-margin products, including low-sulfur diesels. It operates 15 refineries in the US, Canada, the UK, and Aruba. It also has 11 ethanol plants with a combined production capacity of about 1.3 billion gallons per year. Once a more diversified company, Valero has exited the retail business in order to focus on its oil refining and ethanol operations.
Valero has refining and wholesale operations in Aruba, Canada, Ireland, the UK, and the US. In 2014 the US accounted for 70% of the company's total revenues.
The company operates two business segments: Refining (96% of Valero's 2014 revenues -- refining operations, wholesale marketing, product supply and distribution, and transportation); and Ethanol (sales of internally produced ethanol and distillers grains in the US).
Sales and Marketing
The company markets branded and unbranded refined products on a wholesale basis through an extensive bulk and rack marketing network. Valero sells refined products through 5,600 branded sites in the US, 1,000 branded sites in the UK and Ireland, and 800 branded sites in Canada. The company sells ethanol to large customers (primarily refiners and gasoline blenders) under term and spot contracts, and in bulk markets such as New York, Chicago, the US Gulf Coast, Florida, and the US West Coast.
In 2014, Valero's net sales decreased by 5.2% due to a drop in refined product prices and the 2013 spin-off of its retail business.
Net income increased by 33.5% as the result of the absence of retail expenses and decreased depreciation and amortization expenses, partially offset by lower revenues.
Valeros' net cash provided by operating activities decreased by $1.3 billion due to a change in current assets and current liabilities and deferred charges and credits and other operating activities.
Valero is pursuing a long-term strategy of ramping up its profitable businesses in the US while selling about a third of its high-cost North American refineries and other non-core US assets, in order to explore more cost-efficient projects elsewhere in the US and in faster-growing markets in Europe, the Middle East, and Asia.
Hedging its bets, Valero has also moved into the alternative fuel business. Given that ethanol is a requirement in many of the gasoline fuel mixes it sells, the company decided that it could cut costs by owning ethanol plants, rather than buying ethanol wholesale.
In 2014 subsidiary Valero Renewable Fuels Company, LLC, purchased a corn ethanol plant in Mount Vernon, Indiana from Aventine Renewable Energy-Mt. Vernon, LLC with an annual production capacity of 110 million gallons. The Mount Vernon plant is the 11th corn ethanol plant in Valero Renewables' system and its second in Indiana, and gives Valero more than 1.3 billion gallons per year in ethanol production.
In 2013, the new hydrocracker unit at the Valero St. Charles Refinery began operations.
To better control costs, in 2014 the company abandoned our Aruba Refinery, except for the associated crude oil and refined products terminal assets that it continues to operate. It also sold its Texas Crude Systems Business to VLP for $154 million.
To get better shareholder returns, in 2013 the company spun off its retail business as an independent public company, CST Brands. This unit held Valero's company-operated convenience stores in the US and Canada; and filling stations, cardlock facilities, and heating oil operations in Canada. Valero continues to supply fuel to CST Brands' retail sites through long-term supply agreements. (Valero subsequently sold its remaining 20% stake in the company.)
In 2013 the company’s Valero Terminaling and Distribution unit formed a joint venture with TGS Development to start construction on a new marine terminal on the lower Sabine-Neches Waterway near Port Arthur, Texas to support the expansion of oil receipts and the marine movements of other commodities at that strategic port.
Growing its foothold in the petrochemical segment, that year Valero also announced plans to build a major methanol plant at its 270,000 barrel per day St. Charles refinery near New Orleans. Scheduled to commence operating in 2016, the $700 million plant will yield 1.6 million tons of methanol per year