Sunday, July 25, 2010

No Expansion by Murphy Oil In Superior

Not long ago, Murphy Oil, a relatively small refiner in the US best known for A) retailing gasoline at big box discounters' pumps or "Spur" stations, and B) spilling a massive storage tank of fuel in Louisiana during Hurricane Katrina, had plans to greatly expand its Superior, WI refinery processing tar sand crude from Canada.

There was talk of a $6 billion investment at Superior to increase capacity from 35,000 barrels a day to 235,000 barrels.

In fact, the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, one agency that would have had to green-light the expansion, had begun some possible expansion site reviews.

But the economy and shrinking capital markets seem to have doomed the project and along with two other Murphy facilities, the Superior refinery is now up for sale.

It is not clear what the long term holds for the facility and oil refining in Northern Wisconsin so close to Lake Superior, but Murphy seems more interested in paying down debt while continuing to retail, leaving the refining field to other, perhaps bigger firms.

Another owner could maintain things in Superior as they are, or could put the expansion back into play; the refinery is a major employer in Superior, but the refinery has had a checkered history, with fines having been levied for air permit violations and money was spent heavily on polluted runoff cleanup, too.

The US imports more oil from Canada than from any other country, but the tar sand extraction, using precedent-setting amounts of electricity and fresh water to process it for export through pipelines, makes its arrival in the US for refining and then piping out a complex and controversial issue - - more so at a refinery so close to the biggest of the Great Lakes,

More to come, surely.


enoughalready said...

James, I believe you meant to write that the refinery is now up for sale.

James Rowen said...

Damn stupid typist trusting spellcheck and needing an editor! Thanks.