Changing Political Climate

The times are changing finally (sort of)…
It had been years – think: 1976 – since a new refinery has been built in the U.S., but now construction projects are close at hand. It’s happening because refining capacity is maxed out and gas prices are sky high. Plus, legislation passed in 2006 makes the regulatory process somewhat easier.

Some projects include:

  • A refinery in South Dakota proposed by Hyperion that would result in 4,500 construction jobs and more than 1,500 permanent positions. The new refinery would process 400,000 barrels of Alberta tar sands crude a day, turning it into what the company says is low-sulfur gasoline, diesel and jet fuel. Cost: $10 billion.
  • Conocophillips and canadian joint-venture partners expanded a 306,000 barrel/day petroleum refinery in Roxana, Illinois. The refinery converts heavy residual oil and oil-sands bitumen into lighter oil and gases. Cost: $3.6 billion The project will employed up to 2,500 people during the peak of construction.
  • The Motiva Port Arthur (Tex.) refinery expansion got started in 2007 thanks to a joint venture by Saudi Aramco and Shell. Although it’s not a NEW refinery the expansion is so significant that it’s LIKE a new refinery.

It’s important to note that while totally new refineries haven’t been built in the U.S. since 1976, existing facilities are continually expanded. These projects always require significant numbers of workers.

With the election of Obama in 2008 and major party shifts in congress, it was thought that U.S. energy policy might shift dramatically. Some thought it might become harder to gain regulatory approval to build refineries but then the GOP took over the majority in congress. How will it all shake out? Who knows?!

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Types of Oil Refinery Jobs