Phillips 66 reaches FID for Rodeo refinery-to-renewables conversion

June 6, 2022

Phillips 66 has taken final investment decision (FID) to move forward with its Rodeo Renewed project to permanently cease processing of crude oil at the 120,000-b/d portion of its San Francisco refining complex in Rodeo, Calif., and convert the plant into a renewable fuels refinery.

Scheduled to begin commercial operations in first-quarter 2024, the proposed $850-million project will involve construction of new pretreatment units and the repurposing of existing hydrocracking units to enable production of renewable fuels from a feedstock of waste oils, fats, greases, and vegetable oils the site will secure from local, US domestic, and international sources, Phillips 66 said in a May 11 release confirming the FID.

Following startup, Rodeo Renewed initially will produce 800 million gal/year—or more than 50,000 b/d—of renewable diesel, renewable gasoline, and sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) to help meet rising market demand for reduced-carbon transportation fuels in California and elsewhere, the company said.

Part of a broader investment strategy in Phillips 66’s own energy transition to ensure long-term viability and competitiveness of its operations, Rodeo Renewed also comes as part of the operator’s efforts to further the state of California’s environmental and employment objectives, according to Greg Garland, Phillips 66’s chairman and chief executive officer.

“Rodeo Renewed stands to play a major role in helping us lower our carbon footprint as we continue to provide reliable, affordable energy…that will help meet growing demand for lower-carbon fuels, preserve jobs, and support California in achieving its climate goals,” Garland said.

Alongside creating 500 construction jobs and preserving more than 650 jobs, including full-time employees and contractors, Phillips 66 said it expects the project will supply enough renewable fuels to reduce regional lifecycle carbon emissions by about 65%—while also slashing criteria pollutant emissions and water use at the site by 55% and 160 million gal/year, respectively.

Phillips 66’s announcement of FID on Rodeo Renewed follows the May 3 approval of the project’s land use permit by California’s Contra Costa County Board of Supervisors.

Rodeo Renewed to date

Upon announcing Rodeo Renewed in 2020, Phillips 66 said it expected the then-estimated $750-800-million project would involve construction of new pretreatment units as well as repurposing of two existing hydrocracking units for to process a mix of renewable feedstocks—including soybean and cooking oils, fats, greases, and tallow—into renewable transportation fuels, all of which would qualify for generation of credits under the California Low Carbon Fuel Standard (LCFS).

The operator began commissioning the project’s first leg of renewable diesel production in April 2021 from one of the refinery’s repurposed hydrocracking units using Topsoe AS’ proprietary HydroFlex technology, with the reconfigured hydrotreater—equipped to process a feedstock of 9,000 b/d of soybean and other vegetable oils—reaching its full 8,000-b/d production capacity by July 2021.

The broader Rodeo Renewed project additionally includes Phillips 66’s plan to shutter the Rodeo carbon plant and 44,500-b/d Santa Maria refining site in Arroyo Grande, Calif.—which converts heavy crude oil into high-quality feedstock for further processing into gasoline, diesel, and jet fuel at the Rodeo refinery—in 2023, with associated crude pipelines also to be taken out of service in phases starting in 2023.