Independent refiners seek delays from low sulfur diesel

By OGJ editors

WASHINGTON, DC, Sept. 13 -- The US Environmental Protection Agency may allow two independent refiners more time to meet the agency's low sulfur diesel rule.

EPA said Thursday it would allow public comment on the refiners' request through Oct. 15, 2002, although under the fuel rule it may give a small refiner an extension without a formal rulemaking.

In a Federal Register notice, the agency said that Giant Industries Inc. filed a "hardship application" for its 59,000 b/d Yorktown, Va., refinery; another independent, Farmland Industries, Inc. also sought relief for its 112,000 b/d facility in Coffeville, Kan.

Both companies said they want EPA to keep most of the information in their applications confidential for commercial reasons. The rule calls for highway diesel fuel sulfur levels to drop to an average of 15 ppm from 500 ppm beginning June 2006 with a final phaseout by 2010. Small refiners had the chance to have more time meeting the rule, provided they petitioned EPA by this summer.

Gasoline precedent
There was a similar provision for small refiners in EPA low sulfur gasoline rules. The agency last year gave two small refiners additional time to reduce the levels of sulfur in their gasoline production, an action that also will help them meet the June 1, 2006, deadline for low sulfur diesel fuel.

The refiners are National Cooperative Refining Association, which operates an 80,000 b/d McPherson, Kan., refinery, and Wyoming Refining Co., which has a 12,500 b/d plant in Newcastle, Wyo.

They requested and were granted flexibility under a provision in EPA's Tier 2 program, which allows the agency to issue less stringent interim gasoline sulfur limits. This relief will allow the two refiners 2 1/2 to 4 years additional time to meet the rule, depending on each refiner's situation.

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