Raven Petroleum put on notice by environmental agency in significant refinery downgrade

BRUNI, Texas/PRNewswire/ -- Following months of silence, Raven Petroleum, LLC appears to have conceded nearly half its coveted production capacity at its proposed Duval County project. Last month, the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) authorized a Permit by Rule (PBR) for Raven to operate a crude oil/condensate fractionation facility that can process no more than 30,000 barrels/day (bpd), a significant departure from Raven's original plan for a 55,000 bpd refinery. A cloud of uncertainty also hangs over the project as a local landowner appealed the Agency's decision to Travis County District Court, disputing the validity of Raven's PBR.

Raven's managing director, Christopher Moore, is now shifting to a much smaller facility than the one he originally advertised. In February, Raven sought a PBR in an apparent attempt to avoid a mandatory public input process involving local residents. Raven's PBR application conveniently claimed VOC emissions for its proposed facility won't exceed 24.88 tons per year (tpy). A minor increase in production capacity or a minor change in operations would likely cause Raven to violate the PBR emission limit of 25 tpy for VOC, possibly resulting in an enforcement action.

"If Raven were to go beyond what is [currently] represented in their [PBR] registration, to either construct a refinery or increase output to 55,000 barrels per day, they would be required to obtain a new source review authorization," said TCEQ in a letter to attorneys for area landowners. That process allows for participation from the public and Raven could face serious challenges from nearby landowners.

Public support for the refinery continues to slip away from Raven chief Christopher Moore, who came under fire in 2017 for significantly underestimating the cost of his proposed refinery while overstating the number of jobs the project would create, and accusations that Raven plagiarized the entire technology section of its website.

"We still believe that this is a uniquely inappropriate place to build a refinery because of its proximity to the schools and lack of emergency response infrastructure," said neighboring landowner Robert Bruni. "That Christopher Moore had to reduce the size to 30,000 barrels per day tells us that this project was poorly-planned from the beginning."

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