Oil Sands Truth: Shut Down the Tar Sands

New coke facility to open by 2010: ConocoPhillips (Illinois).

New coke facility to open by 2010: ConocoPhillips unit cost is $2 billion
Thu. September 11, 2008

A new $2 billion coke unit at the ConocoPhillips Wood River Refinery should be in use in two years.

Before the end of 2010, the new coke oven is expected to be in operation at the Roxana plant and help expand daily production capacity from 306,000 barrels to approximately 360,000 barrels. That will translate into 312 gallons of gasoline and fuel produced each day.

ConocoPhillips Spokeswoman Melissa Erker said the new unit will mean between 1,500 and 2,500 construction jobs and at least 100 new full-time workers to operate it.

"This is great news," Erker said. "This project that will be both viable for the community and consumers. We are very, very excited about it."

Erker said construction is beginning right away after planning and engineering has been ongoing for some time. But everything was halted when the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency upheld a challenge earlier this summer for the air permit the Houston-based refinery had received in March from the U.S. State Department. The Natural Resources Defense Council led the challenge and argued that flares from the refinery's new coke oven would release harmful pollution.

On Tuesday, the refinery was issued a permit. All along, the refinery has made its case for the state-of-the-art pollution control that the new coke unit would incorporate to reduce air emissions, including 95 percent reduction in sulfur dioxide and a 25 percent reduction in nitrogen oxides.

Kathy Andria, president of the American Bottom Conservancy, stated that the permit is the result of a landmark $3.4 million settlement between environmental groups and ConocoPhillips. The settlement calls for technical improvements, monitoring and pollution reduction from flaring.

"It will mark the first time a large refinery has agreed to measure and reduce its greenhouse gas emissions," she wrote via e-mail.

The project is also part of the refinery's joint-venture with Calgary, Alberta-based TransCanada. Construction is expected to begin soon on a 2,148-mile-long oil pipeline to transport Canadian tar sands crude oil from Calgary to Southwestern Illinois. The $5.2 billion Keystone Pipeline will connect subsidiaries of one of the continent's largest providers of gas storage, TransCanada in Hardesty, Alberta, to Patoka, Ill., about 65 miles east of ConocoPhillips' Wood River Refinery in Roxana, and to another refinery in Borger, Texas.

"This will enable us to handle and process in more than Canadian crude oil," Erker said. "We look at security issues and looking very closely at proximity to this country. The U.S. has a great relationship with Canada."


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