Project Snapshot
Richmond Refinery Energy and Hydrogen Renewal Project
Facility Type: Refinery
Scope: Expansion
Owner: Chevron Corp.
Location: Richmond, California  United States
Region: North America
Modified:  September 29, 2010

Facility description

In operation since 1902, Chevron's Richmond Refinery sits on a peninsula that juts into California's San Francisco Bay. Major process units at the 240,000-b/d facility include crude distillation, hydrotreating, sulfur recovery, fluidized catalytic cracking, hydrocracking, catalytic reforming, and alkylation. The refinery produces gasoline, jet fuel, diesel, and lubricants.

Upgrade project

In a move that would allow the Richmond Refinery to run higher volumes of sour crude yet decrease its overall emissions, Chevron has proposed a project to upgrade and replace equipment at the facility.

According to Chevron, the Energy and Hydrogen Renewal Project involves four steps. First, it would replace the refinery's 1930s-era steam boiler plant with a more efficient gas turbine cogeneration plant. Next, the company would replace the 40-year-old hydrogen plant with a new energy-efficient one. The $1 billion project also would entail modifying existing equipment to remove sulfur compounds and improve the purity of hydrogen that the refinery's processing plants use. Finally, Chevron would replace the refinery's two 1960s-era gasoline reformers with a single plant offering the same capacity as both.

The upgrade would equip the refinery to process a wide range of crude and produce six percent more California-grade gasoline. It would support 1,200 construction jobs and add 10 permanent jobs.

Permitting of the project began in early 2005 and concluded in July 2008. Chevron has secured environmental review and conditional use permits from the City of Richmond and an Authority to Construct permit issued by the Bay Area Air Quality Management District.

Shortly after receiving the conditional use permit, a group of environmental advocacy groups--Communities for a Better Environment (CBE), West County Toxics Coalition, and the Asia Pacific Environmental Network--filed a lawsuit challenging the city's environmental review of the project. Chevron has questioned the need for an environmental review because the proposed project is an upgrade to the existing facility and not an expansion.

Chevron halted work on the project in July 2009, resulting in numerous layoffs. As of September 28, 2010, all parties in the dispute had agreed to settlement discussions initiated and mediated by members of the California state legislature. A mediated agreement would add certainty to the project and thus provide Chevron an incentive to resume work on the upgrade.

  Key Stats
Year constructed:
Major process units:
crude distillation; hydrotreating; sulfur recovery; fluidized catalytic cracking; hydrocracking; catalytic reforming; alkylation
gasoline; jet fuel; diesel; lubricants
Construction type:
Current capacity:
240,000 b/d
Post project capacity:
240,000 b/d
Project cost:
  Related Articles
Court Orders New Environmental Review for Calif. Refinery
Apr 27, 2010 - A California appeals court ruled Monday that Chevron and the city of Richmond, Calif., will have to complete a new environmental review before the company can proceed with planned construction at its San Francisco-area oil refinery.
Chevron Appeals Court Decision To Halt Richmond Project
Jul 20, 2009 - Chevron Corp. (CVX) has filed an appeal to overturn a court order that halted a construction project at its San Francisco Bay-area refinery, the company said Monday.
Primoris Services Issues Richmond Project Update
Jul 10, 2009 - Primoris Services Corp. on Friday announced that it has been made aware that a California state judge has granted an order that may halt construction on a new hydrogen facility at Chevron Corp's Richmond Refinery.
Richmond Council Approves $1B Chevron Refinery Upgrade
Jul 18, 2008 - The Richmond (Calif.) City Council narrowly upheld Chevron Corp.'s plan to spend nearly $1 billion to upgrade its century-old Richmond refinery.
Refiners Face Obstacles To Processing Cheaper Crudes
Jun 12, 2008 - Refiners faced with rising prices for premium grades of crude oil are rushing to expand their ability to process less expensive, dirtier crudes, but their efforts face concerns about pollution and global warming.
Unions Endorse Chevron's Richmond Project
Apr 11, 2008 - The Basic Crafts Alliance, comprised of five Richmond, Calif.-area labor unions, on Thursday announced their support for the Chevron Richmond Refinery Energy and Hydrogen Renewal Project.
Commission Postpones Decision On Richmond Upgrades
Apr 11, 2008 - A decision on Chevron's proposal to upgrade equipment at its Richmond refinery has been postponed until June.
Calif. AG Weighs In On Richmond Upgrade Proposal
Mar 31, 2008 - In his public battle against global warming, state Attorney General Jerry Brown has turned his eye toward Chevron's proposal to upgrade equipment at its Richmond refinery.
Planners Delay Decision On Richmond Project
Mar 24, 2008 - A decision on Chevron's contentious proposal to upgrade equipment at its Richmond refinery is at least three weeks away.
Chevron Lays Out Downstream Plans
Mar 11, 2008 - Executives with Chevron Corp. said Tuesday that the company is focusing its downstream efforts on projects that increase refining scale and flexibility in areas of market strength in the United States and Asia.
Pressure Groups Stifle Dialogue on Richmond Upgrade
Feb 15, 2008 - Tension is rising as Chevron's proposal to upgrade equipment at its Richmond, Calif., refinery marches toward a key decision-making point.
Richmond Panel Recommends OK of Refinery Retrofit
Feb 04, 2008 - A Richmond, Calif., city panel that normally deals with aesthetic considerations recommended approval of a retrofit at the Chevron refinery there.
Chevron Resumes Richmond Property Tax Appeal
Jan 09, 2008 - Chevron resumed its appeal Monday to change how the Contra Costa County, Calif., calculates its property tax at its Richmond refinery.
Calif. Refiners Plan Early Action on Emissions
Nov 02, 2007 - California oil refiners take note: Attorney General Jerry Brown is taking a tough line when it comes to greenhouse-gas emissions.
Bay Area Refinery Owners Upgrading for More Reliability
May 10, 2007 - Several oil giants have plunked down a collective billion-dollar bet on East Bay refinery upgrades they believe will help consumers, bolster fuel supplies, increase reliability -- and harvest profits.
Plans on Table for Hydrogen Plant at Richmond Refinery
Mar 22, 2007 - An engineering company on Thursday was set to present plans to build a hydrogen plant at the Richmond Chevron refinery that would deliver gas to refineries in Rodeo and Martinez.
Richmond Wants Bike Path in Chevron Refinery Lease
Mar 22, 2007 - The Richmond, Calif., City Council will ask the state to require the Chevron refinery to allow a bicycle path on its property as part of a land lease.
Chevron: Decision on Pascagoula Expansion Set for 2008
Mar 13, 2007 - Chevron Corp. (CVX) may expand six refineries, including its U.S. Gulf Coast refinery in Pascagoula, Miss., that it has identified as strategic assets, the head of the energy major's refining and marketing division said Tuesday.

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