SAN DIEGO (Dow Jones)
ConocoPhillips (COP) said an effort to upgrade its Wood River refinery in Roxana, Ill., to process heavy crude is still on schedule despite a prolonged permitting process.
"Permitting is taking quite a bit of time," said Lawrence Ziemba, the company president for U.S. refining.
Securing the needed air permits has taken about 30 months, far exceeding the normal 18- to 24-month process, he said.
The company is anticipating a ruling on its permits soon, but Ziemba didn't say how quickly a ruling was needed in order to keep the project on track.
The upgrading effort is slated to be online in 2010. The effort is part of a plan to upgrade Conoco's refineries, in a partnership with Encana Corp. (ECA), to process Canadian crude.
Costs of doing projects has increased, Ziemba said, and permitting and other hurdles have also impacted other projects.
Conoco's effort to expand its San Francisco refinery will be completed in the fall of 2009, he added. The company is waiting for a hydrogen plant, which a third-party manufacturer is constructing. The two projects must start up simultaneously, he said.
The project will expand the refinery's crude processing by 7%, and improve efficiency at the refinery.
Copyright (c) 2008 Dow Jones & Company, Inc.