Valero completes new desulphurization unit

Published 12:00 am Thursday, June 30, 2005


Staff Reporter

NORCO — The construction of a Gasoline Desulphurization Unit at the Valero Refinery in St. Charles Parish has been completed as part of Environmental Protection Agency requirements under the Clean Air Act.

According to Ron Guillory, director of public affairs for the refinery, the unit was put into production last week.

The machine removes the sulphur from gasoline, and has the capacity to put out 60,000 barrels per day, Guillory said. The St. Charles plant produces approximately 100,000 barrels per day.

The new unit has created four permanent jobs, which Guillory described as “mostly process operator positions.”

The expansion was expected to take 18 months for completion and was budgeted at $120 million.

“We stayed under budget, and finished two months ahead of schedule,” Guillory said.

Recently, an added list of projects Valero will be completing to adhere to EPA requirements have been developed as a result of a settlement with the EPA, the Louisiana Development of Environmental Quality and the U.S. Justice Department.

The settlement involved all of Valero’s 14 refineries, and Valero will invest more than $700 million in environmental improvements, according to information provided through a press release.

The civil penalty with the state of Louisiana came to $175,000 as part of the settlement, and the company is planning to spend $200,000 on projects to reduce truck and vehicle remissions at the St. Charles site, as well as a site in Krotz Springs, La.

Guillory said these new projects are scheduled to take place, “very soon, within about 30 days.”

When the projects are completed, the estimated emission reductions are anticipated to come to the removal of 1,176 tons per year of nitrogen oxide and 36 tons per year of volatile organic compounds in the products the St. Charles site produces.

Valero’s products include gasoline, diesel, jet fuel and other petroleum products.

In 2001, World Refining Magazine honored Valero as the US Refiner of the Year for their production of clean-burning fuels.

According to the Valero Energy Corporation website, Valero was one refinery winning an Environmental Achievement Award at EPA’s Clean Air Act 10th year celebration. The company has also been awarded a Governor’s Award for Environmental Excellence for their Texas refineries.

In a statement released by Bill Greehey, CEO of Valero Energy Corporation, he said, “We struggled with this initiative because we are confident we met the requirements of the Clean Air Act and because the vast majority of

the EPA’s concerns involved alleged permitting issues that occurred at the refineries before Valero even acquired them.”

The St. Charles site was purchased in July 2003 from the Orion Refining Company.

Greehey went on to say the company was happy an agreement has been come to and they are looking forward to working with the EPA to implements the projects.