Delaware refinery to move forward with ethanol infrastructure

By Tom Bryan | March 01, 2017

A major refinery in northern Delaware will move forward with a project to expand its ethanol blending infrastructure and capabilities after the state’s top environmental agency rejected an appeal to stop it from happening.

In December, the Delaware City Refinery was granted a permit by the Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control to move forward with an expansion of its ethanol handling capabilities—referring to the expansion as its Ethanol Marketing Project. Two civic groups, Delaware Audubon and the League of Women Voters, quickly appealed the decision, asking the DNREC to reconsider its approval. On February 27, the state’s Coastal Zone Industrial Control Board rejected the appeal, saying the groups failed to prove that their members would suffer direct harm from the project.

According to DNREC filings, the refinery originally submitted an application for the ethanol project in August, stating an intention to “utilize existing tanks” and “existing marine loading equipment” to accomplish project goals. The refinery also said it intended to modify truck loading operations to enable denatured ethanol handling, and upgrade storage and loading equipment at both the Delaware City Refinery Marine Piers and the Delaware City Sales Terminal. The refinery owns and operates a marketing terminal in conjunction with the Delaware City Refinery.

The opposition groups claimed the new ethanol infrastructure would lead to added refinery throughput and significant new rail and barge traffic in the area. Disruptive traffic on the Delaware River, specifically, was a concern. Refinery officials disagreed, saying the facility already receives ethanol shipments and the new infrastructure would not amount to a major operational modification.

The Delaware City Refinery, which has a capacity to process 190,000 barrels of oil per day, is one of the largest and most complex refineries on the East Coast, according to its parent company, BPF Energy. The refinery is located on a 5,000-acre site on the Delaware River, with the ability to accept crude by rail or waterborne cargoes. The refinery possesses an extensive distribution network of pipelines, barges and tankers, truck and rail for the distribution of its refined products.