Company only ‘gathering information’ for long term prospects

Published 12:00 am Monday, April 11, 2005


Staff Reporter

GARYVILLE-The Marathon Ashland Petroleum refinery in Garyville is in the process of doing a feasibility study for expansion of the plant, but no great expansion will happen anytime soon, a spokesman says.

Bruce Rhodea, human resources manager for Marathon said while they are serious about an expansion, any concrete plans are a long way off.

Though the refinery recently purchased some property on West 23rd Street, there are no plans to build anything on the acquired property, but just use it for green space.

According to Rhodea, a feasibility study for a major expansion deals with, among other things, the possible costs of expansion, the rate of return, and permits needed.

The information gathered is then taken to the board of directors to be evaluated and make a decision over whether it can be funded.

“We have a lot of people working on it,” Rhodea said, “but there are still a lot of questions and uncertainty.”

Rhodea said since the study was still in the stages of infancy, he was reluctant to even talk about it.

“We don’t know if it will end up succeeding,” said Rhodea. “We would like it to, but we need more background before we speak on it.”

Rhodea said Marathon has been involved with a home buy out program for West 23rd and 24th streets in Garyville, because a number of residents there are now saying they don’t want to live so close to the refinery.

The property recently acquired for green space belonged to the Zion Traveler’s Baptist Church which, according to Rhodea, has bought an existing church somewhere in LaPlace.

“The (church owners) were ecstatic,” Rhodea said, “they were very excited to move to a better place to grow and prosper and see their congregation increase.”

Rhodea declined to disclose what Marathon paid for the property.

He predicts that at least 75% of the homeowner’s will sell to Marathon, adding the refinery has already closed on about 50%.

As for any major expansion, Rhodea said that, if it were to happen, production would not begin until the year 2009 or even 2010.