The first new* refinery in decades is preparing to open in Port Arthur, Texas in upcoming weeks. Why isn't this being reported in the media? Because of a technicality- this is a massive expansion of an existing refinery, so technically, it's not "new". Why did I say such then? The increase in production is more than the average capacity at a refinery today, so to explain to people that we're adding capacity, I chose a headline that's sure to grab your attention.

When it ultimately opens, Motiva's Port Arthur plant will have seen its capacity more than double to 600,000bpd from its current 275,000bpd, making it the largest refinery in the United States. So while the facility is on newly developed land, new equipment is purchased, new employees hired, it's technically an expansion- something we've heard little about.

How can you say this isn't a new refinery being built when this much material is being used:

61,175 piles for a total of 4,500,000 linear feet based on an average length of 75' (852 miles) -- wider than Texas or nine times the distance from Port Arthur to Houston,
285,000 cubic yards of concrete -- enough to make a towering cube 170 feet high if you poured it on a football field
3,100,000 linear feet of pipe (600 miles)
5,600,000 linear feet of cable -- enough to stretch from Port Arthur to the south edge of Chicago
Almost 2000 pieces of equipment -- ranging from a crude colum 284 feet high and 30-foot diameter weighing two million pounds empty, to small vessels three feet high and two feet in diameter
78,000 tons of structural steel (156,000,000 pounds)

And the refinery expansions don't end there- dozens of facilities have been expanded in recent years. As I sit here, a refinery in my backyard, just outside Chicago, almost view able from my office, is nearly three-quarters complete with an expansion. A Marathon refinery in Detroit also completed an expansion and upgrades in the last year.

So while everyone is focused on the statement that no new refinery has been built in decades, you now know that it's just a technicality and that refineries have easily added a lot of capacity in the last few years.