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Flint Hills poised to process more crude

CORPUS CHRISTI — Flint Hills Resources has begun the construction phase of a project that will enable its West refinery in Corpus Christi to process more crude from the Eagle Ford Shale energy play.

Valerie Pompa, vice president and manufacturing manager for Flint Hills Resources, and members of the plant’s leadership team broke ground on the project last week. In a statement issued Tuesday, Pompa said the project, dubbed Project Eagle Ford, also will enable the company to reduce its criteria air emissions by using best available control technologies and other emission reduction strategies.

“It’s an exciting time here in Corpus Christi and we are proud to be a part of the continued growth,” she said.

Flint Hills Resources is owned by Koch Industries Inc., a Wichita, Kansas, holding company that is controlled by billionaire brothers Charles and David Koch. The company is one of many that have expanded or retooled their operations in the Coastal Bend in recent years, hoping to take advantage of the abundance of cheap natural gas supplies from shale in the region.

Experts say the massive energy play contains about 20 trillion cubic feet of natural gas and more than 3 billion barrels of oil.

The project is expected to cost about $600 million, require about 2,000 contractors and be completed in 24-36 months, spokeswoman Darcy Schroeder said.

Flint Hills Resources’ West Refinery is one of two refineries the company operates in Corpus Christi and supplies fuels for major Texas markets such as San Antonio, Austin and the Dallas-Fort Worth area. Today, the West refinery is processing roughly 230,000 barrels each day. The project would enable the plant to process as much as 10 percent more crude each day. Flint Hills Resources’ East Refinery has a capacity of about 70,000 barrels daily.

After the project is complete, it will have the capability to process 100 percent domestic crude.

In May, Flint Hills Resources received permits for the project from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality. Internal board approval was received in September.

As of Tuesday, EPA has finalized 59 greenhouse gas permits in Texas.

Twitter: @Caller_ChrisRam ___

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