Valero Energy Corp  (VLO)
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Valero Energy Corp

Business Description

Valero is also a leading marketer of refined products. Valero markets branded and unbranded refined products on a wholesale basis in the United States and Canada through an extensive bulk and rack marketing network. Valero also sells refined products through a network of more than 4,500 retail and wholesale branded outlets in the United States, Canada and Aruba. Valero’s retail operations include approximately 1,600 company- operated sites that sell transportation fuels and convenience store merchandise. Valero’s primary wholesale and retail brand names include Diamond Shamrock®, Shamrock®, Ultramar®, Valero® and Beacon®.

Through agreements with Valero L.P., Valero also has access to a logistics system that complements Valero’s refining and marketing assets primarily in the U.S. Gulf Coast, West Coast and Mid-Continent regions. Valero owns approximately 46% (including the 2% general partner interest) of Valero L.P., a master limited partnership that owns and operates crude oil pipelines, crude oil and intermediate feedstock storage facilities, and refined product pipelines and terminals primarily in Texas, California, Oklahoma, New Mexico and Colorado. Limited partner units of Valero L.P. are listed on the NYSE under the symbol “VLI.”

Valero’s reportable business segments are refining and retail. Valero’s refining segment includes refining operations, wholesale marketing, product supply and distribution, and transportation operations. The refining segment is segregated geographically into the Gulf Coast, Mid-Continent, West Coast and Northeast regions.

Valero’s retail segment includes company-operated convenience stores, Canadian dealers/jobbers, truckstop facilities, cardlock facilities and home heating oil operations. The retail segment is also segregated geographically. Valero’s retail operations in the northeastern United States (which comprised a home heating oil business that was sold in July 2003) combined with its retail operations in eastern Canada are referred to as the Northeast System. Valero’s remaining retail operations in the United States are referred to as the U.S. System.


The refining and marketing industry continues to be highly competitive. Valero’s competitors include fully integrated major oil companies (e.g., ExxonMobil and ConocoPhillips) and other independent refining and marketing entities (e.g., Sunoco and Premcor) that operate in all of Valero’s market areas. Many of Valero’s competitors are engaged on a national or international basis in many segments of the petroleum business, including exploration, production, transportation, refining and marketing, on scales much larger than Valero’s. These competitors may have greater flexibility in responding to or absorbing market changes occurring in one or more of these segments. All of Valero’s crude oil and feedstock supplies are purchased from third-party sources, while some competitors have proprietary sources of crude oil available for their own refineries.

Financial returns in the refining and marketing industry depend largely on refining margins and retail fuel margins, both of which fluctuate significantly. Refining margins are impacted by levels of refined product inventories, the balance of refined product supply and demand, quantities of refined product imports, and utilization rates of domestic refineries. Historically, refining margins have been volatile, and they are likely to continue to be volatile in the future. Valero’s ability to process significant amounts of sour crude oils enhances Valero’s competitive position in the industry as sour crude oils typically can be purchased at a discount to sweet crude oils.

Valero’s retail business faces competition from fully integrated major oil companies that have increased their efforts to capture retail market share in recent years. Valero also competes with large grocery stores and other merchandisers (the so-called “hypermarts”) that often sell gasoline at aggressively competitive prices in order to attract customers to their sites. In Quebec, Canada and in the adjacent Atlantic Provinces, Valero is the largest independent retailer of gasoline.

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