A South County oil refinery will be able to process an additional 4,500 barrels of crude oil a day – an increase of 10 percent – thanks to a decision made last week by the San Luis Obispo County Planning Commission.
Phillips 66 got the go-ahead to increase its daily maximum limit of crude oil “throughput” from 44,500 barrels a day to 48,950 barrels a day. The yearly average jumps from 16,220,600 barrels to 17,866,750.
The little-noticed refinery, located on a 1,644-acre parcel off Highway 1 west of Nipomo, has operated since 1955. Its several owners over the years include Union Oil, Tosco, Phillips Petroleum, and Conoco Phillips.
It runs 24 hours a day, 365 days a year except during maintenance shutdowns
The facility processes heavy, high sulfur crude oil, which it receives by pipeline from offshore oil platforms off Santa Barbara and from oil fields in the Santa Maria area, according to a county staff report. It also receives some of its product from Price Canyon and San Ardo.
“Semi-refined” liquid products are shipped from South County by pipeline to a refinery in Rodeo, in San Francisco’s East Bay, where it is upgraded into finished petroleum products. To help with the flow, there is a pump station near Santa Margarita.
Phillips 66 has been modernizing in recent years in order to keep up with changing environmental regulations, according to the staff report. It has, for example, installed emission control dev ices and upgraded its water treatment plant.
The Planning Commission approved the increase on Dec. 13.