U.S. refiners eyeing a turn toward renewable fuels

Fuels |  2 min. read

(Photo Credit: Phillips 66)

As Chef Jacques Pepin said, “Cooking is the art of adjustment.”

Added Julia Child, “No one is born a great cook, one learns by doing.”

In both cases, the same can be said about the world of energy production, where what’s cooking right now is renewables. And the secret ingredient in that effort is fat.

Refiners including Phillips 66, Marathon Petroleum Corp. and HollyFrontier Corp. are considering plans that that would convert their facilities to produce renewable diesel fuels from cooking oil.

In August of this year, Phillips 66 announced plans to reconfigure its oil refinery in Rodeo, Calif., into the world’s largest renewable fuels plant. The plant aims to produce 680 million gallons annually of renewable diesel, renewable gasoline and sustainable jet fuel, according to the company.

“We believe the world will require a mix of fuels to meet the growing need for affordable energy,” Phillips 66 Chairman and CEO Greg Garland said, adding that “RodeoRenewed will be an important part of that mix.”

Phillips 66 will have close competition. Just 13 miles away, Marathon announced it may turn a refinery that it recently purchased in the City of Martinez into a renewable diesel facility.

The trend isn’t exclusive to the West Coast. HollyFrontier Corp. is set on renewable diesel production at its Artesia Refinery in New Mexico and its Cheyenne Refinery in Wyoming. The plants will combine to “produce over 200 million gallons per year of renewable diesel,” the company said.

In August, HollyFrontier’s CEO Mike Jennings said demand for renewable diesel mixed with federal and state incentive programs have fueled the conversions. Jennings called it an opportunity to enhance the company’s “profitability and environmental footprint” through “organic investment.”

More importantly, it’s adding a cleaner mix of fuels to a world with increasing demand for energy.