Imperial Revamps Canadian Refinery

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Imperial Revamps Canadian Refinery

CALGARY, Alberta -- Imperial Oil Ltd. said Thursday it's successfully converted its small Nova Scotia refinery (pictured) to produce low-sulfur fuels, as rival Petro-Canada shut down a similar operation in Ontario because costs were too high.

Imperial, which runs Canada's largest refining operation, spent $80 million refitting its 88,000-barrel-per-day refinery in Dartmouth to meet federal regulations for low-sulfur gasoline. The revamp of the Dartmouth facility is part of a $575-million program to enable Imperial's four refineries to produce ultra-low sulfur gas by the end of November. That's 13 months ahead of the government-imposed deadline for a radical cut in the amount of the pollutant in gasolines from 350 parts per million in 2001 to 30 ppm by the start of 2005, according to the Calgary Herald.

However, Toronto-based Imperial, which sells gasoline through its chain of 1,700 company-owned Esso branded stations, said the announcement wasn't intended to upstage Petro-Canada, which said the $300-million price tag to revamp its 80,000-barrel-per-day refinery to produce ultra-low sulfur gas wasn't cost-effective. It plans to close the operation instead and supply its Ontario gas stations from a Montreal refinery.

"There is absolutely no relation between our timing and theirs," said Imperial spokesman Pierre Desrochers. "We planned long ago to make an announcement on this date."