The Press Newspaper
BP-Husky Toledo refinery in Oregon has applied to the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency for a draft air pollution control permit-to-install to replace existing equipment and install a new process unit, which would reduce overall air emissions.
The proposed BP-Husky Reformer 3 project involves replacing two existing naphtha reformers with a new reformer with a new gas-fired heater. The old naphtha reformers and a hydrogen furnace would be shut down.
Naphtha is a petroleum hydrocarbon (oil byproduct), or “bad gasoline” because its octane value is around 50 or 60 percent, and the minimum octane found at the gas pump is about 87 octane, explained Dina Pierce, spokesman for the Ohio EPA.
“A naphtha reformer breaks down naphtha’s molecules and re-forms them to produce a higher octane gasoline,” said Pierce.
A new benzene saturation unit would also be installed, which would process naphtha steam from the new reformer and lower the benzene content of the gasoline. The lower benzene level in gasoline is required by a federal regulation taking effect in 2011.
If the permit modification is approved by the Ohio EPA, the plant would have higher emissions of particulates, sulfur dioxide and volatile organic compounds and lower emissions of nitrogen oxides and carbon monoxide, according to the Ohio EPA.
“Based on the permit evaluation and computer modeling results, Ohio EPA believes that higher emissions of particulates, sulfur dioxide and volatile organic compounds will not harm public health or the environment,” said Pierce. The Toledo region currently is meeting federal air quality standards and it is Ohio EPA’s job to make sure any permits we issue for new air pollution sources continue to protect public health and the environment, and keep Lucas County in attainment of national air quality standards.”
The company, at 4001 Cedar Point Road, has voluntarily chosen to undergo a “prevention of significant deterioration” (PSD) review for particulate emissions less than 10 microns in diameter rather than using credits from two units that will be shut down, according to the Ohio EPA. A PSD review applies to major modifications at existing facilities to maintain air quality in areas already meeting national ambient air quality standards.
“The project is extremely beneficial from a lot of standpoints,” said Mary L. Caprella, public affairs director at BP. “Overall, our regulated air emissions will decrease by five percent once the new units are installed.”
In addition, the local economy will benefit with the addition of jobs during the construction phase next year, she said.
“During the peak of construction, there will be an additional 350 skilled trades people at the site constructing the facility. That’s pretty good news for the economy,” she said. “In addition, roughly 50 support personnel (construction supervision, engineering and others) will be required during construction.”
Included in the project is a major upgrade to the refinery’s electrical infrastructure to provide the additional power needed for the Reformer 3 equipment. New electrical feed lines and an electrical substation will be constructed on BP-Husky property directly south of the refinery. As part of permitting the electrical substation, additional public information sessions will be conducted sometime during late summer or early fall of 2009, said Caprella.
The project has to get final financial sanctioning from BP and Husky before the project moves forward, said Caprella.
“That will be done probably in the October-November timeframe,” said Caprella.
The project is expected to start early next year, with completion expected in late 2011, she said.
Plans call for final sanctioning and startup of the facility by early 2012.
“We believe pretty strongly that this will move forward, from a permitting standpoint,” said Caprella. “It really is a very positive project. It benefits the economy, the environment, and puts more people to work at a time a lot of people are looking for construction jobs. At the same time, it allows us to upgrade our facility with state of the art equipment to help with energy efficiency. We will see a small incremental increase in production output processing the same amount of crude. It’s really a pretty solid project.”
She declined to disclose investment costs of the project, citing proprietary reasons.
The Ohio EPA and Toledo Division of Environmental Services will accept written comments on the application through Aug. 4.
To comment or receive information on the draft air permit, write to Peter Park, Toledo Division of Environmental Services, 348 South Erie St., Toledo, OH 43602 or fax comments to Park at (419) 936-3959.
The application and other related materials are available for review at Toledo Division of Environmental Services by calling (419) 936-3015. The draft permit is also available online at www.epa.state.oh.us/dapc/permits issued/280399.pdf