Houston-based Hunton Energy has proposed building a "green refinery" in Freeport, Texas.
The proposed 340,000-b/d refinery would convert Canadian bitumen crude oil into jet fuel and diesel. What would make the refinery "green" would its inclusion of a gasification facility, which would be used to capture most of the refinery's carbon dioxide emissions before they reach the atmosphere.
Hunton Energy contends that integrating a gasification facility into the refinery would drastically reduce emissions by eliminating a number of units that conventional refineries use. The gasifier would produce synthetic gas from either petroleum coke or coal mixed with steam and oxygen. The synthetic gas would produce steam, which would power the refinery. The refinery also would recycle water and sell various byproducts.
One component of the proposal calls for building a separate facility in Canada to dilute bitumen, or "dilbit," so that it can be shipped via pipeline. Hunton would either contract with a pipeline operator for shipping or build its own pipeline. Once the dilbit reaches the refinery, hydrogen would be applied to crack the slurry and convert it into fuel.
Hunton Energy, which is a unit of heating and air conditioning provider Hunton Group, is building a $2.8-billion gasification facility in Freeport near a Dow Chemical plant. The gasification facility will turn coal or petroleum coke into synthetic natural gas and steam that will be sold primarily to Dow. Groundbreaking for this facility is expected by the end of 2009.
The total price tag of a refinery, gasification plant, Canadian facility, and pipeline could approach $30 billion. The refinery's fate depends on whether Hunton Energy can secure the necessary permits as well as funding. Should the project move forward, construction could begin in 2011.