SimRefinery was developed by Maxis after the success of SimCity. After rejecting several requests from companies, the team eventually agreed to make a prototype for Chevron. In the words of Will Wright:
[SimRefinery was] a simulation of their refinery operation, for orienting people in the company as to how a refinery works. It wasn't so much for the engineers as it was for the accountants and managers who walked through this refinery every day and didn't know what these pipes were carrying.— 
As a commissioned business aid, it was not made available to the public.
SimRefinery resembled SimCity with different graphics, disasters, and rules, the former to represent oil tanker ports, petroleum storage and piping systems.
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