Forward this mailing
Katrina devastated the gulf coast with its terrible destructive force and our entire country has been wounded. National, state and local disaster plans proved to be fatally inadequate, and we are still suffering from gas price ‘shock’ every time we even drive by a service station.

Did this catastrophic storm serve to finally awaken us and the world to the desperate conclusion that we are not only too dependent on foreign oil, but also woefully short of the refinery capacity to keep our gas tanks full? Or, did the ‘imperfect storm’ only fuel more controversy about our energy policy and the ‘not in my backyard’ attitude that surfaces every time there is talk of a new fuel manufacturing facility?

Robert M. Berty
Executive Director

In 1976 Marathon’s refinery at Garyville, Louisiana was the last new oil refinery constructed in the United States. That’s almost 30 years ago! We seem to have such an infinite appetite for this commodity, but no new plants to manufacture the finished product have been started in the last quarter of a century. What’s wrong with this scenario?

In Crawford County, oil production and refineries have been a way of life since the legendary ‘whiskey bottle’ well was drilled on the John Shire farm near Stoy, Illinois in 1906. Crawford County became the largest oil producing area in the world in1908 and retained that ranking through 1910.

Refining started in Robinson in 1906 when Lincoln Oil Company built its facility on the site of the present day Marathon refinery. In 1924 the 750 barrel per day refinery was purchased by Ohio Oil, the predecessor to Marathon Oil Company and Marathon Petroleum Company LLC. Our refinery here has expanded over the years to the present capacity of roughly 200,000 bpd, sitting on 920 acres and employing over 600 skilled workers. (Photo of Marathon's 200,000 barrel refinery in Robinson, Illinois.)

What weighs 650,000 pounds, is 188 feet long, 20 ft. high, and crawls down the highway?

One of Marathon’s new hydrotreating reactors moving through Robinson, June 2005

Because of our country’s enormous need for gasoline, diesel fuels and other associated products, this refinery has been in an almost continual expansion mode. The annual output would supply roughly one 10 gallon tank of gas for each of the approximately 220 million vehicles in the United States today. One of the latest improvements, in June of 2005, includes the hydrotreating reactor that will be used to make ultra low sulfur diesel fuel. Not one, but two of these vessels made the long journey by ship from the manufacturers in Italy to New Orleans, traveling up the Mississippi and Ohio Rivers to Mount Vernon, IN, and then to the Robinson refinery by highway.

This type of expansion and growth, plus the ‘turn-arounds’ (because of the nature of their processes and the need for safety, refineries have to be periodically refitted, refurbished and sometimes completely rebuilt), have generated a large, independent construction industry in our area that employs over 200 highly skilled construction workers on a year round basis. Some of these local construction companies have been active for 2 or 3 generations of owners and employed families. This part of our industry is often overlooked and is an important segment of our local economy.

Since Crawford County grew up with the oil industry and we know how vital it is to our area and the entire country, we can assure the rest of the world that the oil and refining industry can be a good neighbor. The ‘imperfect storm’, whether it was the most recent catastrophic hurricane or the storm of political second guessing that has followed, has taken a terrible toll. Let us all hope and pray that we have learned from it and that our gulf coast, its inhabitants, and our country recover quickly and completely.

For more information on Crawford County, please visit the Crawford County Development Association (CCDA) Web site.

The Crawford County Development Association Newsletter is created in partnership and made possible through the assistance of Ameren Economic Development.

Ameren P.O. Box 66149 MC 350 St. Louis, MO 63166-6149
Generated by
Learn more