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Company Announces Plans To Shutter Central Coast Oil Processing Facility

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An oil company has announced plans to close its more than half century old plant on the Central Coast.  Phillips 66 says it will phase out what’s known as the Santa Maria Refinery in 2023.  The nearly 1800 acre facility is in the Nipomo area.  It will replace it with expansion of a Northern California plant.

It processes about 44,000 barrels of crude oil a day, which is ultimately refined for things like gasoline and jet fuel.  The decision means that the company is dropping a project to replace more than 30 miles of pipelines in San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara.

It may disrupt a proposal by ExxonMobil to ship about 70 truck tankers full a day of crude oil from Santa Barbara County to the facility for processing.  ExxonMobil’s oil platforms in Santa Barbara County have been shut down since the May, 2015 oil pipeline rupture at Refugio State Beach. 

It could be years before the pipeline is replaced, and the company has been looking at alternatives to shipping oil from the county for processing.  The oil trucking proposal is drawing strong opposition from the environmental community, because of the accident risk and pollution from the trucks.

Lance Orozco has been News Director of KCLU since 2001, providing award-winning coverage of some of the biggest news events in the region, including the Thomas and Woolsey brush fires, the deadly Montecito debris flow, the Borderline Bar and Grill attack, and Ronald Reagan's funeral.