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Published: Thursday, 10/7/2004

$100M hydrogen plant planned in Toledo

BY JULIE M. McKINNON
BLADE BUSINESS WRITER
Refineries such as BP's use hydrogen to produce clean-burning fuel. Refineries such as BP's use hydrogen to produce clean-burning fuel.
FRASER / BLADE Enlarge

A British supplier of industrial gases plans to begin construction this month on a $100 million hydrogen production and utilities complex to supply Toledo area BP PLC and Sunoco Inc. oil refineries, which each are pursuing their own $100 million equipment upgrades.

BOC Group Inc. will have about 10 employees in the hydrogen complex on the edge of the grounds of the Sunoco refinery on the Toledo/Oregon border. Refineries use high-purity hydrogen to remove sulfur from gasoline and diesel fuel so they burn more cleanly in vehicles.

To meet upcoming federal regulations for cleaner-burning fuels, Sunoco has started construction on its project and BP has begun excavation work on foundations for new equipment.

For BP, the investment now is the first part of a 10-year, $300 million project. The refinery has 450 employees, compared with 475 at Sunoco's.

BOC recently reached a deal with Sunoco to situate the hydrogen complex on its property. Hydrogen will be transported to the BP refinery by pipeline.

Hydrogen is used in other industrial settings, such as chemical production, and the planned BOC complex will produce more than 110 million standard cubic feet of the gas daily. BOC expects to finish construction on the complex late next year to supply more than just the two refineries, said spokesman Kristina Schurr.

"We expect some local customers, additional customers," she said.

The hydrogen complex and the refinery upgrades are expected to generate more than 800 construction jobs. Sunoco's project is to be completed by August and BP's by the end of next year, officials at the refineries said.

The refineries are not expected to increase employment after the upgrades, the spokesmen said.

BOC also is involved in a planned $80 million project with Warren Fabricating & Machining and Buckeye Pipeline at the East Toledo site of the former Chevron refinery. That project is not connected to the hydrogen complex, Ms. Schurr said. She declined to provide details of the Chevron site project.

In the past few years, BOC has begun work on more than a dozen hydrogen plants on five continents, including one at the Citgo Petroleum Corp. refinery in Lemont, Ill., that started production last year.

Contact Julie M. McKinnon at:

jmckinnon@theblade.com

or 419-724-6087.



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