The Emery County Planning Commission meets on the ground at the site of the new refinery. Mike McCandless, far right, explains the project.
A public hearing was held to hear comments on the conditional use permit for Emery Refining LLC for a Level three Conditional use permit to operate a micro-refinery and associated rail system in the industrial park in Green River. Economic Development Director Mike McCandless said he has been working on the project for 18-20 months. The company originally looked at other locations, but decided on Green River because of its proximity to the rail and transportation by SR-6 and I-70. The property was also available for the project. The spot is unique and is triangular in shape with the rail, the interstate and SR-6 readily accessible. The permitting is for a Level three conditional use permit. This is one of the last permits needed and the air quality permit has been approved and is waiting for signature.
Emery County's planning and zoning commission reviewed everything and passed the permit onto the Emery County Commission for their approval. One of the steps was to hold a public hearing for any comments about the project. The commission can accept, reject or modify the recommendation from planning and zoning. Hank Diesel has been McCandless' primary point of contact for the project.
Diesel said he is from Houston, Texas and they also have an office in London, England. He is an investment banker and has also become one of the sponsors for the project. "I wish to extend my thanks to Pat Brady the mayor of Green River, to Mike McCandless and to our legal counsel out of Salt Lake. Utah is a business friendly state and we look forward to working with the county and the state. We've passed through the comment period on the air quality permit. We hope to start turning dirt by summer. This location turned out to be the best. The crude is available. This project is different because of the technology. It will be a state of the art facility, but it's a fairly simple process. We will make a very small footprint. The property is 500 acres and we will use 180 acres for the project. The project will be completed in three phases. The first will be the rail component. This portion of the project will transport the crude to market. It will take 12-14 months for the spur to be complete."
The refinery will be built from a kit and be classified as a micro-refinery for local crude oil, brought in from a 200 mile radius of Green River. During Phase two of the refinery, it will take in light sweet crude oil and then refine it into kerosene and diesel. During this phase, they will have 29 employees, not including construction, and produce 10,000 barrels a day.
During the refinery's third phase, it will refine oil into more specific refinery products, employ 24 people, and produce 5,000 barrels a day. The raw product will be brought in by 75-100 trucks a day via Indian Canyon and will go out by rail. They are estimating 130 employees during the construction process and want to hire local/regional contractors when they can.
The proposed refinery's representatives insist that the facility won't omit noxious smells since its distillation process only emits carbon dioxide. Also, fugitive emission detectors on site would detect such noxious emissions. Green River is a good fit because of the crude oil in the region, decreased transportation costs while utilizing I-70 and the rail. Green River is a good place for economic development, and to take advantage of the importance of kerosene for the region's aviation needs. The project is estimated to be worth $250 million and the funding is secure for the project.
"We are ready to go, ready to move forward, this project will bring a huge tax base. We hope to employ people from Utah," said Diesel.
Green River Mayor Pat Brady spoke in favor of the project. He said it will be a learning experience that will bring opportunity and employment to Green River. "We are excited for the refinery to go in. It will help us to learn how to handle growth for future projects. I appreciate the work that Mike and Hank have put into this project," said Mayor Brady.
A citizen asked if affordable housing will be developed in Green River and where the employees will come from as Green River is a small town. McCandless said that Green River employees, many of them are underemployed and working several jobs to make ends meet. Local workers and contractors will be considered first and he has put the company in touch with many of the local contractors including Nielson Construction, Nelco and several others. Skills needed during the construction phase will include site preparation, dirt work, concrete work, pipe fitting and several other skilled contractors. During the refinery installation phase the refinery will be constructed in Houston and then transported here to be reconstructed on site.
Some of the employees after the refinery is up and running will be skilled in computer and operations as the refinery will be operated from a control room and the workers will monitor gauges, meters and other instruments. These will be monitored 24 hours a day, seven days a week. These will be skilled positions. Training will begin soon said Diesel so these operators will be functional when the time comes. The plant manager will be onsite in Green River. The chief executive officer will work out of the Houston office.
Diesel reported the wages, benefits and bonuses will be good. The major expenses at the facility will be the facility itself. McCandless said the state of Utah is offering some incentives to the company which are post performance incentives. The wages will be 125 percent of the average county wage. After all requirements are met, the company will receive tax incentives in a reduction of corporate taxes.
The Governors Office of Economic Development Incentive Committee has approved this project for a large incentive that could exceed $10 million.
Diesel said basically the refinery is a distillery which cooks the oil and processes it into different products. By taking the raw product and making these derivatives, they increase the value of the raw product.
After all the comments and explanations the commissioners voted to approve the Level three conditional use permit so the refinery project can continue to move forward.