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North Dakota refinery plans represent landmark

Hydrocarbon Engineering,

A proposed US$ 200 million refinery in North Dakota could be the first US greenfield refinery to be built in 35 years. The 20 000 bpd plant, which received county zoning approval a week ago and now awaits a final state air permit, represents how the tight-oil revolution is reshaping the US energy industry in unexpected ways. The abundance of shale oil has already reversed a long decline in production in the state and fuelled a 10% spike in diesel consumption nationwide in recent months.

Currently, North Dakota has only one refinery, Tesoro Corp's 58 000 bpd complex, which is located approximately 223 miles southeast of the new refinery's site. Tesoro aims to begin construction on a 10 000 bpd expansion of the Mandan plant before 2012, which is geared mostly toward increasing diesel output. Nevertheless, the state will be far from supplying its own diesel needs: a large majority of its consumed fuel comes from refineries in Montana and Minnesota.

Elsewhere in the US:


A refinery unit malfunctioned on November 19 at Tesoro Corp's 97 000 bpd Los Angeles refinery in Wilmington. The unit involved has not been specified, but Tesoro has been performing planned overhauls of production units at the refinery since October 21.


Cenovus Energy Inc's 306 000 bpd Wood River refinery has begun to ramp up operations following the installation of new crude distillation and coking units.    The plant upgrade will allow the refinery to run up to 240 000 bpd of heavy Canadian crude oil. Cenovus is a partner in the refinery with ConocoPhillips. The new units, which add 65 000 bpd of coking capacity and 50 000 bpd of crude distillation capacity respectively, are expected to be fully on stream sometime before the end of the month.


A safety flare at Total Petrochemcial's 232 000 bpd Port Arthur refinery malfunctioned on November 18, leading to release of volatile organic compounds into the atmosphere. The flare lost its pilot light, which ignites hydrocarbons being burned off by the refinery.

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