SPRINGFIELD --- In an effort to avoid additional pressures on already high gasoline prices in St. Louis and metropolitan Chicago, Gov. Rod R. Blagojevich yesterday instructed the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency to authorize a contingent construction permit to the ConocoPhillips Wood River Refinery. The permit allows the company to begin operating a crude oil refining unit at the now closed Premcor refinery adjacent to the Wood River Refinery in Hartford.
“The bottom line is that gasoline shortages mean increased gasoline prices,” said Gov. Rod Blagojevich. “We recognize the serious impact ConocoPhillips’ operating problems could have on gasoline consumers in some of our state’s highest-priced gasoline markets. Thanks to the quick and coordinated efforts of the Illinois EPA, State Representatives Jay Hoffman and Steve Davis and State Senator Bill Haine, ConocoPhillips will continue to provide an uninterrupted supply of gasoline to our major urban areas.”
The Wood River Refinery supplies specially reformulated gasoline required in the Chicago and St. Louis metropolitan areas during the ozone season to reduce ozone-forming emissions. The refinery can process up to 310,000 barrels of crude oil per day, making it one of the state’s largest refineries. However, the refinery recently experienced difficulties with one of its distilling units, prompting company concerns that ongoing operating problems could interrupt gasoline production. Without approval of the contingent permit, ConocoPhillips indicated that a potential shortage of up to 700,000 gallons of gasoline per day could result if problems with the unit persist. While resolving the Wood River Refinery’s operational problems could take several weeks, the revived Hartford crude unit should be on-line in about seven days.
The contingent construction permit authorizes ConocoPhillips to operate the Hartford crude unit for a maximum of 30 days between April 6 and May 31. To continue its newly expanded operations, ConocoPhillips still must obtain approval from the Illinois EPA of its pending application for a permanent construction and operating permit.
Among the conditions of the contingent permit, ConocoPhillips must test its units prior to start-up to minimize emissions. Emissions of the Hartford and Wood River facilities will be less than the original emissions when both facilities were in full operation. Additionally, the company is required to notify the Illinois EPA of any new developments regarding the distillation unit at the Wood River Refinery as well as the Hartford crude unit.
“As our top priority is protecting the environment, the permit includes a number of provisions to ensure the Wood River Refinery meets all applicable environmental regulations,” said Renee Cipriano, Illinois EPA Director.