In this week's news update, Royal Dutch Shell plans to close its Franklin Park office, and the EPA launches an investigation into the risk management plan compliance of an ExxonMobil refinery.

The Environmental Protection Agency has become the latest government agency to open an investigation into the ExxonMobil Torrance refinery.

The investigation seeks to determine whether ExxonMobil understated the possible effects of a worse-case industrial disaster at the refinery, and will probe the company’s regulatory compliance in the wake of last February’s explosion.

According to news sources, EPA spokeswoman Nahal Mogharabi confirmed that the agency is looking at ExxonMobil’s compliance with a required Risk Management Plan. The Los Angeles News Group has learned that the investigation was prompted by an independent analysis performed by the recently formed grass-roots Torrance Refinery Action Alliance, which includes a member of the ExxonMobil Community Advisory Panel.

Related: Pennsylvania May Take Hit in Marcellus Impact Fees

The analysis shows that in the late 1990s ExxonMobil, in conjunction with Torrance Fire Department officials and City Manager LeRoy Jackson, secretly approved a reduction in the percentage of an additive intended to make extremely dangerous hydrofluoric acid safer in the event of an accidental release of the chemical.

Royal Dutch Shell to Close Marcellus Office
Royal Dutch Shell plans to close its Franklin Park office in 2016. The 180 workers involved in gas and oil drilling there will move to its U.S. headquarters in Houston.

The move is the latest sign of restructuring among top Marcellus Shale gas producers, as prices remain low.

Related: 4 Reasons You Should Expand into the Marcellus Shale

Shell announced 6,500 layoffs worldwide during 2015. The company drilled only eight shale wells in Pennsylvania this year, compared to 17 in 2014 and 31 in 2013, according to state records.

Canadian Oil Sands Sets Lower Budget for 2016
Canadian Oil Sands announced its capital spending budget for next year will be much lower than in recent years, estimated at 295 million Canadian dollars ($221 million U.S.).

The Calgary, Alberta-based company’s budget estimate comes as it attempts to fight off a hostile C$4.47 billion takeover bid from larger rival Suncor Energy Inc.

Related: New Interest in Upper Devonian Shale Spurs Oil & Gas Exploration

The company emphasized its efforts to reduce costs to help weather lower oil prices. It said it expects to generate cash flow of about C$633 million in 2016.

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