Centennial celebration: Los Angeles refinery turns 100

Community News

Los Angeles, California, foundation
Battleship Iowa
Marathon employees and their families explore the deck of the Battleship IOWA at the Los Angeles refinery’s 100th anniversary event.
  • Marathon Petroleum’s Los Angeles refinery is celebrating its 100th anniversary in 2023, marking its centennial with a variety of events throughout the year.
  • Refinery leadership joined employees, contractors and their families in early April for a celebration kickoff event aboard the historic U.S. Navy battleship, USS IOWA.
  • Marathon has been a longtime supporter of Pacific Battleship Center, the owner and operator of the iconic Battleship IOWA Museum, and its many educational programs through community investment grants.

To mark the 100th anniversary of Marathon Petroleum’s refinery in Los Angeles, employees, contractors and their families came together to celebrate aboard the historic battleship USS IOWA at the Port of Los Angeles. The April event on the main deck of the retired battleship had picture-perfect weather as team members toured the storied ship during the refinery’s centennial celebration.

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“We are celebrating a century of fueling progress,” said CP Patsatzis, Vice President of Refining at the Los Angeles refinery. “Representing 100 years of hard work and countless current and former team members who helped make this anniversary possible.”

The year was 1923

In 1923, the 450-foot-long, 45-foot-tall Hollywood sign was erected, the Walt Disney Company was founded, and the first nonstop flight across the U.S. was completed, departing from New York City and arriving in Southern California, which at the time produced over 20% of the world’s crude oil.

In the same year, California Petroleum Corporation and Pan American Petroleum built neighboring facilities, which together make up Marathon Petroleum’s Los Angeles refinery, a two-site refinery operating as one in Wilmington and Carson.

Aerial view of the Battleship IOWA during Marathon’s event to celebrate its Los Angeles refinery’s 100th anniversary.

Immeasurable impact

Over the years, both facilities grew and changed owners several times. It wasn’t until June 2013 that the two sites took the first step in joining together, when the former Tesoro Corporation, which had purchased the Wilmington facility in May 2007, acquired the Carson facility. Tesoro Corporation was later named Andeavor before joining Marathon Petroleum in October 2018.

“While each site has its own heritage prior to 2013, their legacies have a noteworthy commonality,” Patsatzis said. “They each have enabled progress locally and across our nation for over a century.”

Back on deck

A couple hundred people attended the centennial celebration aboard Battleship IOWA, which also celebrated an anniversary of its own in 2023, marking 80 years since its commission into service as part of the United States Navy Atlantic Fleet.

Marathon has been a longtime partner of the Battleship IOWA Museum through volunteerism and investments in the museum’s many educational programs. During his keynote speech to employees at the refinery’s centennial celebration, Patsatzis announced the company’s latest investment, a $150,000 grant to support Pacific Battleship Center’s three core pillars: Education, Veterans and Community.

Kids take part in a variety of activities during the 100th anniversary event on the Battleship IOWA.

“Marathon sees that there is an opportunity to make a difference and gets their employees involved in a hands-on way,” said Pacific Battleship Center’s Development Director Kyle Aube. “They don’t cut a check and walk away; they provide input on what we are doing and see that their investment dollars are put to good use in the community.”

One of those employees is Mike Kulakowski, the refinery’s Safety Supervisor, who has been with the company for almost 30 years.

“Many of us spend our weekends volunteering in the communities around our facilities, not because we have to, but because we want to,” he said. “Then to celebrate our company’s history on a piece of our nation’s history with your fellow employees and their families, it doesn’t get much better than that.”

Los Angeles refiner General Manager CP Patsatzis (left) and Marathon Petroleum employees present a donation to Kyle Aube, Pacific Battleship Center’s Development Director.

The event at the Battleship IOWA was truly unique and a bit personal for employees like Major Projects Construction Supervisor Joseph Arrizon, a veteran of the U.S. Marine Corps.

“It’s a win-win. I get to celebrate the refinery and go back to my roots, which is the military, so it’s pretty special,” said Arrizon, a 22-year employee of Marathon.

More events to celebrate the refinery’s 100th anniversary are planned throughout the year.

A couple takes a selfie on deck of the Battleship IOWA during Marathon’s celebration.
Children take part in a variety of activities during the 100th anniversary event at the Battleship IOWA.
WWII-era planes conduct a flyover as part of the Los Angeles refinery’s 100th anniversary event on deck of the Battleship IOWA.
Refinery employees and their families stop for a bite to eat during the anniversary event.
Refinery employees and their families tour the historic battleship.
Refinery employees prepped and smoked the food for the celebration event on the Battleship IOWA.
Battleship IOWA fires the ship’s naval gun in salute to the Los Angeles refinery’s 100th anniversary.
Military veteran provides refinery employees and their families with some Battleship IOWA history during 100th anniversary event aboard the historic naval ship.