Thursday, December 4, 2014



On December 2, 2014, Flint Hills Resources announced that it had broken ground on its refinery expansion project at the West refinery in Corpus Christi, Texas.  The project, called “Project Eagle Ford” according to the company’s website, is expected to cost around $600 million and to increase the refinery’s crude oil processing capacity by over 16,000 barrels per day, or seven percent.

The project was designed to support production from the nearby Eagle Ford Shale play.  The Eagle Ford Shale formation is located in south Texas and is one of the most productive shale plays in the world.  The shale play stretches across 30 counties in Texas.  At least 200 oil and gas companies are currently operating in the Eagle Ford Shale, including Anadarko Petroleum, Conoco Phillips, Marathon Oil, Murphy Oil, Devon Energy, and Shell.

The EPA and the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality gave approval to Flint Hills’ refinery expansion in 2013.  The company has agreed to implement stringent monitoring and additional measures for emissions reduction at the refinery.  Flint Hills announced that it was utilizing the best available control technologies at the facility.

Construction projects for new refineries and major refinery expansions in the United States have been scarce in recent years.  A new refinery began operation in Douglas, Wyoming, in 2008; however, that refinery had a limited capacity of approximately 3,000 barrels per day.  In 2009, Marathon Oil upgraded its refinery in Gary, Louisiana, in order to double its original capacity.

While industry proponents blame the EPA and environmental laws for the lack of new construction starts, opponents argue that the oil and gas industry deliberately limits competition in the oil refining sector.  Between 1975 and 2000, the EPA received only one permit request for a new refinery.  The five largest refiners in the United States are ExxonMobil, Conoco Phillips, BP, Valero, and Royal Dutch Shell.  These companies control over half of the domestic oil refining capacity.  According to Department of Energy statistics, there are currently 142 refineries operating in the United States.

The West refinery expansion project is expected to be completed in three years.  Flint Hills Resources is a unit of Koch Industries, Inc., which is headquartered in Wichita, Kansas.

For more information, contact Toni Ellington at (504) 599-8500.

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