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Kansas Refinery Delays Maintenance Turnaround

McPHERSON, Kan. -- The National Cooperative Refinery Association (NCRA) announced it will delay its planned five-week October maintenance shut down in order to continue operating at full capacity during the current period of tight U.S. fuel inventories.

The 80,000 barrel-per-day Kansas refinery had been scheduled to curtail operations in October for a "turnaround," a period during which routine maintenance and equipment upkeep occurs.

The McPherson, Kan.-based refinery is part of a supply network reaching 1,500 locally owned co-ops and more than 1,100 convenience stores that serve farmers, ranchers and other consumers from the Great Lakes to the Pacific Northwest and from the Canadian border south to Texas.

"We believe it's in the best interest of our nation and its fuel consumers that we delay our turnaround and maintain full production at NCRA," said James Loving, NCRA president. "Conducting our turnaround at this time would take this refinery out of production for four to six weeks at a time when fuel inventories are projected to be at record low levels. Providing a dependable supply of refined fuels to our customers is critical at this time." Loving said the turnaround has been rescheduled for October 2006.

NCRA will continue with the final stages of completing and connecting its $300 million Clean Fuels project, which will allow it to produce ultra-low sulfur fuels for both on- and off-road diesel. U.S. refiners must reduce sulfur levels in diesel fuel from 500 parts per million to 15 parts per million by June 2006. To meet the ultra low sulfur requirements, NCRA has constructed the unicracker, a new hydrogen plant and additional sulfur handling capacity, and made modifications to existing process units.

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