DNR issues permit for $50 million Murphy Oil projectPlans to upgrade Murphy Oil’s refinery in Superior got the go-ahead from the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources on Monday.
By: Shelley Nelson, Superior Telegram
Plans to upgrade Murphy Oil’s refinery in Superior got the go-ahead from the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources on Monday.
The permit allows the refiner to move ahead with plans to construct and operate a benzene splitter and make modifications to its processes to meet new federal regulations for fuels.
Two major components of the project will reduce sulfur in diesel fuel and benzene from gasoline.
Under current regulations, Murphy Oil is operating under a waiver that allows it to produce higher sulfur diesel fuel until June 1, 2010; however, since 2008, vehicles running with diesel fuel have been required to use technology that reduces emissions. The scrubbers require low sulfur diesel.
The refinery has been producing some of that lower sulfur diesel fuel but has been limited in how much it could produce, said Dave Podratz, refinery manager. He said the project will allow the refinery to increase its production of the low sulfur diesel “rather dramatically.”
While the change would result in about five tons more in sulfur dioxide per year at the refinery, it’s expected the reduction in fuel sulfur content will remove 1,600 tons of sulfur from tailpipe emissions each year.
The other component of the project will allow the refinery to reduce benzene content in gasoline to meet new federal regulations that go in effect in 2011.
Podratz estimates the projects will create about 50 full-time jobs over the yearlong construction process, with more or fewer working during various phases of the project. He anticipates the project getting underway immediately so the company can meet sulfur regulations by time the permit expires.
Neil Baudhuin of the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources said there were no issues raised during the public comment period.
During a public hearing last week in Superior, the project garnered support from leaders in the building trades and city council.