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Toledo: BP, Sunoco plan carries health, economic benefits

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The first project of its kind in Ohio - a $9.8 million pipeline that will carry explosive hydrogen gas between the Toledo area's two refineries - should benefit the region both in terms of economic stability and public health, officials said.

Both are in response to U.S. Environmental Protection Agency demands for a cleaner-burning gasoline to be out on the market in 2006.

The federal EPA is demanding substantial reductions in gasoline sulfur to curb ground-level ozone emissions, which cause smog.

The agency believes the nation's smog problem can be greatly reduced simply by having automobiles burn cleaner fuel. Sulfur also is a component of acid rain that falls from the sky and pollutes waterways and trees. Although the U.S. EPA attributes about two-thirds of the acid rain problem to emissions from coal-fired power plants, it says that vehicle exhaust is a contributing factor.

By making a financial commitment to comply with those requirements, BP and Sunoco Inc. are protecting jobs by enhancing the viability of their refineries, officials said.

"This is the first project of its kind to be sited in Ohio," Alan Schriber, chairman of the 11-member Ohio Power Siting Board, said. "We are excited to see this type of investment take place, and encourage the development of similar projects in the future."

BOC Group Inc. is a British-based hydrogen supplier that is domestically headquartered in Murray Hill, N.J.

It announced plans in October for a $100 million hydrogen facility at the edge of the Sunoco refinery. The refinery is on the East Toledo/Oregon border.

BP negotiated a deal for a foot-wide pipeline to be laid over 3.6 miles to its refinery in Oregon, enabling BOC to sell hydrogen to both refineries. The Ohio Power Siting Board approved the project, provided that the pipeline is buried within or adjacent to existing railway and utility corridors.

The exact route was not identified.

"BP's really pleased we were able to reach this agreement," Mary Caprella, a company spokesman, said.

Hydrogen is necessary to remove sulfur during the refining process, Kristina Schurr, a BOC spokesman, said.

BOC will own the pipeline and will be responsible for its operation. The Ohio Power Siting Board erroneously stated in its announcement that Buckeye Gulf Coast Pipe Lines L.P., the company contracted to install the pipeline, will be the owner-operator, Ms. Schurr said.

The state board's announcement said the project will begin in February and be completed by Aug. 1. But Ms. Schurr said some details are still being finalized and that those dates are not firm.

She said her company's 2004 global income exceeded $7 billion, largely from sales of hydrogen and other gases used by the refineries and others in the industrial sector.

"Hydrogen demand is on the rise, mainly due to the demand by the refining industry," Ms. Schurr said.

Contact Tom Henry at:

thenry@theblade.com

or 419-724-6079.

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