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Berths 150-151 - The Union Oil Co.
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Berths 150-151 Site Photo
Diagram of Berths 150-151
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Discover how this oil terminal, built by one of California's early oil giants, played a key part in transforming California into a major oil supplier and the center of America's petroleum industry.


In the early part of the 20th century, Union Oil made several significant oil discoveries and became a pioneer in the oil industry. These actions laid the foundation for its future as one of California's giants in the industry. By the 1920s, a time when oil production and drilling passed to the Los Angeles region, Union Oil and Standard Oil of California dominated the oil industry at the Port.

View of Berths 150-151 (1928)
View of Berths 150-151 (1928)

In 1916, the Southern California oil boom motivated Union Oil to purchase a 200-acre site for a new refinery in Wilmington, adjacent to the Los Angeles Harbor. Four years later, Union Oil leased a nearly 4-acre site adjacent to the Inner Harbor at Berths 150151 to develop an oil receiving terminal. Originally used as a repair dock for Union Oil tankers, the site was an ideal location for the oil terminal because it offered an easy approach, ample mooring space, and deep water for tankers. Furthermore, all loading and discharging could be accomplished through pipe lines, and therefore, no rail or highway facilities were necessary. The development of the oil terminal helped establish Union Oil's position as a prime shipper of petroleum products through the Port of Los Angeles.

View of Wharf at Berth 150-151 (1938)
View of wharf at Berths 150-151

Construction on the site began immediately. The Harbor constructed a 300- by 40-foot wharf, and Union Oil installed storage tanks with a holding capacity of 335,000 barrels (14,070,000 gallons) as well as a number of outbuildings. In addition, the oil company installed six pipelines (two 10-inch field lines and one 12-, one 8-, and two 6-inch lines) which supplied oil from the berths to the nearby refinery. When the site was completed in 1920, it had the capacity to load three vessels simultaneously. Over the next few years, Union Oil added additional pipelines. By 1930, the company had increased tank storage capacity of petroleum products to 350,000 barrels. By 1931, as their operations expanded, Union Oil leased and constructed a wharf at Berth 149. That same year, the Port of Los Angeles repaired deteriorated portions of the timber wharves at Berth 151 with creosoted materials.

In 1947, one 19-inch oil field pipeline and five (12-, 10-, 8-, 6-, and 4-inch) refinery lines supplied the site. Barge services for 20,000 barrels was available for bunkering either diesel or fuel oil. The terminal also provided a storage capacity of 25,000 barrels of lubricating oil.


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