Editor's note: The following is a prepared statement from Flint Hills Resources.
Flint Hills Resources announced Friday that it plans to make improvements to several processing units at its Pine Bend refinery in Rosemount.
The proposed projects, estimated at approximately $400 million, are expected to improve reliability, reduce key emissions and improve the refinery’s ability to convert crude oil into transportation fuel.
The projects involve replacing three less-efficient heaters with two new state-of-the-art heaters, upgrading an existing process heater, and making improvements to the refinery’s cooling towers. The new and modified heaters will include best available control equipment for nitrogen oxide (NOx) emissions and use cleaner-burning natural gas or fuel gas.
The new equipment and process improvements will lead to more efficient operations, allowing the refinery to operate closer to its current design capacity of 320,000 barrels per day while continuing to make reductions in key emissions.
The projects are expected to create as many as four million hours of new work, increasing the current temporary contract workforce at Pine Bend from a daily average of about 500 to more than 1,000 over at least the next five years.
Since 1997, the Pine Bend refinery has lowered emissions of traditional criteria pollutants by approximately 70 percent, while increasing production in order to help meet demand for transportation fuel.
The refinery has reduced total on-site emissions in 10 of the last 11 years, and its emissions per barrel are currently 50 percent lower than the industry average for large refineries. The new projects will result in a decrease in NOx and sulfur dioxide (SO2) emissions. The refinery is implementing best available control technology to minimize other emissions.
The projects are subject to regulatory review and will require a permit from the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency. The projects must also receive final approval from Flint Hills Resources management.
The refinery expects to begin construction in 2014.