Laurel Refinery to produce cleaner fuels

Montana State Roundup

Published October 1, 1991  | October 1991 issue

The Cenex Laurel refinery will undergo an $80 million upgrade to enhance production of cleaner-burning fuel products and reduce sulfur dioxide emissions.

The project consists of three closely related components that will remove sulfur from a portion of crude oil that eventually is refined into gasoline and other fuels, according to a report from Cenex, which is an agricultural supply cooperative based in St. Paul, Minn.

Upon completion, emissions from the plant will be cut by about 25-30 percent. The refinery will meet not only current requirements of the federal Clean Air Act but also anticipated regulations for farm machinery, automotive and heavy equipment manufacturers.

"We feel in order to continue to supply customers, it's necessary to do this," says Lani Jordan, Cenex spokesperson. "This is a sign of our commitment to remain in the refinery business." Jordan says.

The Cenex Laurel refinery, located about 16 miles southwest of Billings, produces an average of 42,500 barrels per day of a variety of refined petroleum products.

Construction is scheduled to begin next spring on the two-year project, which will employ about 400 construction workers and create 15 to 20 permanent jobs.

The Billings-Laurel area stands to gain more than just jobs from the project. By reducing emissions, the refinery may put Billings back in contention as a federal attainment area. Since the mid-1970s emission levels have exceeded the National Ambient Air Quality Standards, meaning no new or expanding industries that might emit sulfur dioxide have been permitted in the area.

Kathy Cobb