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SAINT JOHN, N.B. -- Irving Oil Ltd., operator of 560 Mainway, Big Stop and Quick Mart convenience stores in the United States and Canada, said it will be investing $100 million in its 250,000 barrel-per-day (bpd) refinery in Saint John to enable begin producing ultra low sulphur diesel.
Ultra low sulphur diesel has a sulphur content of 15 parts per million (ppm) or less, a potential 97 percent reduction from current industry standard for diesel, which allows for a maximum sulphur content of 500ppm. Irving Oil has a track record of meeting clean fuel regulations years ahead of schedule. The company's low sulphur gasoline averaged 45 ppm last year, 84 percent lower than the Canadian industry average, and earned the company the distinction of being the only oil company to receive a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Clean Air Excellence award.
Irving Oil also received an Innovations award from the Canadian Council of Ministers of the Environment for its clean gasoline, the company said.
Irving Oil daily exports approximately 175,000 barrels of petroleum products to the U.S. Northeast, including 100,000 barrels of reformulated gasoline (RFG). These exports account for 42 percent of all Canadian petroleum exports. RFG produced at the Irving Oil refinery, Canada biggest, and imported to the United States accounts for 45.5 percent of all American RFG imports.
Kenneth Irving, president of the Canadian oil company, said Irving's commitment to continually upgrading its refinery bucks the trend in an industry where the number of North American refineries has declined by 50 percent over the last two decades and 43 per cent of refineries have changed hands in the last decade.
"We've always taken the long-term view with investments," Irving said. "When you approach environmental investments with this forward-looking mindset, it's much easier to not only achieve improved environmental performance, but also to find economic opportunities. The continuation of our track record in exceeding government regulations and industry performance is the best testament to the sustainability and effectiveness of our company's long-term approach to doing business."
Irving Oil is also in the final stages of construction at its refinery that will allow the company to produce gasoline with a sulphur content of 10ppm by spring 2004, ahead of other announced refinery projects that will bring sulphur levels to 30ppm. This level is just one third of the 30 ppm regulated levels, which take effect in 2005 in Canada and in 2004 in the United States.
As recently as April 2003, Irving Oil has sold cargoes of California Air Resources Board (CARB) grade gasoline into the environmentally stringent California market. CARB gasoline is extremely low in sulphur, and also meets other requirements particular to California, most of them related to air quality requirements. The gasoline is specifically formulated to allow for ethanol blending at its final destination.