Phillips 66 converts Rodeo refinery to diet of 100% renewable feedstocks

April 2, 2024
Phillips 66 Co. has eliminated crude oil processing at the San Francisco refining complex in Rodeo, Calif.

Phillips 66 Co. has eliminated crude oil processing at the San Francisco refining complex in Rodeo, Calif., and is nearing completion of its Rodeo Renewed project to convert the former conventional refinery into a manufacturing hub exclusively dedicated to production of renewable fuels (OGJ Online, June 6, 2023).

As of Apr. 1, the Rodeo Renewed energy complex was processing only renewable feedstocks and producing about 30,000 b/d of renewable diesel, Phillips 66 said.

“We’ve had strong execution to-date and are fully focused on finalizing the [Rodeo Renewed] project in the second quarter,” said Rich Harbison, Phillips 66’s executive vice-president of refining.

With the feedstock switchover completed and renewable diesel production now under way, the operator confirmed the newly converted refinery is on track to achieve its target commercial production capacity for renewable fuels of more than 50,000 b/d by the end of second-quarter 2024.

Phillips 66 said it will also move forward with its previously announced plan for Rodeo Renewed to begin production of renewable jet—a key component of sustainable aviation fuel (SAF)—sometime during second-quarter 2024.

While the refinery conversion project was designed with capability to produce 20,000 b/d of SAF in addition to 10,000 b/d of renewable jet for blending with conventional, crude oil-based jet production, Phillips 66 said in 2023 the site’s switch to SAF from renewable diesel would need to be incentivized by favorable economics (OGJ Online, Aug. 3, 2023).

Once those economics are in place, however, the Rodeo complex can quickly shift to the renewable jet-SAF production scheme, with potential also in place to increase the site’s SAF capacity via future investment, according to the company.

Phillips 66, which announced taking final investment decision to proceed with Rodeo Renewed on May 11, 2022, previously completed startup of a first leg of renewable diesel production in July 2021 from one of the Rodeo refinery’s repurposed hydrocracking units using Topsoe AS’ proprietary HydroFlex technology (OGJ Online, May 12, 2022).

Most recently estimated for completion at an overall investment of $1.25 billion, the Rodeo Renewed project comes as part of Phillips 66’s long-term strategy to expand production of renewable fuels, lower the carbon footprint of its operations, and provide reliable, affordable energy in line with the global energy transition.

Upon completion, Rodeo Renewed—which is to be partially powered by solar energy through an agreement with NextEra Energy Inc.—will use a feedstock of waste oils, fats, greases, and vegetable oils to produce renewable transportation fuels, including renewable diesel, renewable gasoline, and SAF, Phillips 66 said in its 2023 sustainability report.

The operator is also performing an initial engineering design study for deploying carbon capture and storage (CCS) technology at the Rodeo Renewed complex’s hydrogen production unit, the operator said.

Earlier project milestones

The early April confirmation of progress on Rodeo Renewed follows Phillips 66’s confirmation in its 2023 annual report published last month that the operator planned to shut down the refinery’s second conventional crude distillation unit by the end of February 2024.

As part of the conversion project, Phillips 66 in February 2023 ceased operations at its 44,500-b/d Santa Maria refining site Arroyo Grande, Calif.—which converted heavy crude oil into high-quality feedstock for further processing into gasoline, diesel, and jet fuel at the Rodeo refinery—reducing the integrated refining system’s combined net crude throughput capacity of 120,000 b/d to 75,000 b/d, according to the report.

In October 2023, the operator shuttered the Rodeo refinery’s first conventional crude unit, which further reduced the system’s net crude throughput capacity to 52,000 b/d, where it remained as of Jan. 1, 2024, until subsequent closure of the second crude unit, the company said.