Chevron accepts amended plan for Richmond refinery revamp

Chevron Corp. has agreed to accept an alternative, more environmentally friendly plan proposed by city officials for the long-delayed $1 billion modernization of its 257,000-b/d Richmond, Calif., refinery (OGJ Online, July 11, 2014).

In addition to accepting the alternative upgrade plan, referred to as Alternative 11 in the project’s final environmental impact report (EIR), the company also has proposed to double its environmental and community investment agreement with the city of Richmond to $60 million from an original proposal of $30 million, Chevron said.

The environmentally superior Alternative 11, the adoption of which has been endorsed by California Atty. Gen. Kamala Harris, will limit the amount of sulfur that the Richmond refinery can process, ensure greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from the plant will not increase, and result in additional reductions in health risks as well as other emissions, Chevron said.

Chevron’s acceptance of the revised plan for the Richmond modernization follows the City of Richmond Planning Commission’s July 10 provisional approval of Chevron’s final EIR, which was amended by the city’s permitting team to include a series of additional recommendations and new conditions proposed by local environmental groups who oppose the project (OGJ Online, July 11, 2014).

While documents recently made available by the City of Richmond show Chevron appealed the July 10 actions of Planning Commission on July 15, the company said it is now prepared to accept all of the conditions recommended by the city’s permitting team.

“Over the last 3 years, we have listened closely to our neighbors’ feedback on modernization, which has resulted in the gold standard for refinery projects and will result in an even better project,” said Kory Judd, general manager at the Richmond refinery.

Chevron’s proposed $60 million community investment will be used to provide residents of Richmond and North Richmond funding for career training, college tuition, local green initiative programs, as well as grants for local nonprofit organizations, the company said.

The modernization project will replace some of the refinery’s oldest processing equipment with safer modern technology meeting some of the toughest air quality standards in the US but will not change the basic operation or capacity of the refinery (OGJ Online, Mar. 19, 2014).

The project’s main components include replacing a 1960s hydrogen plant with modern technology that is safer, cleaner, and 20% more energy efficient, which will allow the plant to process higher-quality hydrogen more efficiently and reliably, according to Chevron.

While the revised project plan will reduce by half Chevron’s initial proposal for increasing the refinery’s sulfur processing capacity, the plan still will give the plant flexibility to process crude oil blends with higher levels of sulfur, according to City of Richmond documents.

The Richmond City Council is scheduled to make a final decision on the project’s final EIR at its July 29 meeting.

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