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NW Ohio refinery looks to $300M tar sands upgrade

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TOLEDO, Ohio (AP) — A refinery in northwest Ohio is seeking state approval for a $300 million upgrade to refine tar sands from Alberta, Canada.

Spokesman Mel Duvall with Canada-based Husky Energy Co. said the type of heavy crude most likely to be refined in Lima differs from the company's vast reserves of bitumen, although both are in Alberta.

The (Toledo) Blade says Husky is seeking an Ohio Environmental Protection Agency permit for equipment changes required to stay in compliance with federal air-pollution laws.

The agency will accept comments at a public information session Tuesday at the Lima City Council chambers and written comments will be accepted through Oct. 7.

The proposal calls for the company to make changes to existing units to allow the processing of heavy oil. Equipment upgrades and a new sulfur recovery unit are part of the plan.

The heavy oil would be transported to the refinery through existing pipelines, according to the newspaper.

The Lima refinery, formerly owned by BP, is used by Husky to produce up to 155,000 barrels of petroleum products a day, mostly from lighter crude. The retrofit would allow Husky to produce 40,000 barrels a day from either heavy crude or bitumen, Duvall said.

The permit under consideration states the heavy crude and bitumen need different pollution controls because of the higher sulfur and acid contents of that oil.

The 127-year-old refinery employs 440 workers, and creates jobs at any one time for as many as 200 contractors.

Earlier this year, BP-Husky Refining LLC unveiled a $400 million addition to BP's Toledo refinery in Oregon for refining tar sands as part of a joint venture between the two companies. The two companies share ownership of reserves in Alberta.

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