The Valero refinery in Norco is expecting some big changes this year.
According to Valero spokesperson Taryn Rogers, two large construction projects that have been in the planning and construction phases over the past few years will go on-line this year. The biggest of the two projects is a long awaited $1.5 billion hydrocracker project that was announced first in 2009.
A hydrocracker uses heat and hydrogen to break down heavier elements of crude into diesel and kerosene.
Construction on the plant expansion was expected to be competed in the last quarter of 2012, but that has now been pushed back to the first quarter of 2013 with operation slated to begin in the second quarter of the year.
Rogers said at the peak of construction on the hydrocracker project around 2,500 contractors per day were working at the site.
When the hydrocracker project is completed, it is anticipated to increase the refinery fuel output.
"We are looking at a project that could expand the capacity to 75,000 barrels per day by 2015," Rogers said. "Its main products will be high-quality diesel and jet fuel for both domestic and export markets."
The hydrocracker project is expected to create 23 permanent jobs in the region.
Another large project taken on by Valero is a joint venture with Diamond Green Diesel that will produce renewable diesel fuel.
"It will make renewable diesel that’s chemically identical to petroleum-based diesel," Rogers said "California’s regulations on renewable fuels will create a premium market for it."
The $368 million project is slated for completion in the first quarter of 2013 and should be in operation in the second quarter. The plant is expected to produce 9,300 barrels per day of renewable diesel and will provide 31 permanent jobs as well as five contractor positions.
Rogers said during the biggest phase of construction on the Diamond Green Diesel project 1,000 contractors worked on the site.
Last year the company anticipated spending $3.6 billion altogether to accelerate the hydrocracker and Diamond Green Diesel projects scheduled for completion this year as well as completing major turnaround maintenance at the Norco facility.