Chevron’s Richmond refinery upgrade advances

Local officials have approved Chevron Corp. to proceed with the long-delayed $1 billion modernization of its 257,000-b/d Richmond, Calif., refinery on the contingency the company agrees to implement additional recommendations into its project plans.

The City of Richmond Planning Commission certified Chevron’s environmental impact report (EIR) for the modernization project at a meeting on July 10 (OGJ Online, June 10, 2014).

But the approval would require Chevron to comply with a series of new conditions, some of which have been formulated by local environmental groups who oppose the project (OGJ Online, June 6, 2014).

“We are pleased that the Richmond Planning Commission made a decision; however, we have grave concerns over conditions placed on the approval,” said Melissa Ritchie, Chevron Richmond spokesperson, in a July 11 e-mail to OGJ.

While Chevron still is reviewing the Planning Commission’s final resolution, the company also is awaiting the next phase of the approval process, which begins on July 22 when the project goes before the Richmond City Council.

“Based on what we heard at the [July 10] meeting, we believe this is an issue that the Richmond City Council will need to review and make a final decision on, which is expected at the end of the month,” Ritchie said.

The modernization project—which 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—will not change the basic operation or capacity of the refinery but will provide it greater flexibility to process crude oil blends and gas oils containing higher levels of sulfur (OGJ Online, Mar. 19, 2014).

The project’s main project 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.

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