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Phillips 66 unloads half a million dollars for its rail extension 

Consultant and special services contracts for Phillips 66’s rail expansion project will cost the company nearly $550,000.

On Aug. 6, the San Luis Obispo County Board of Supervisors unanimously approved two items on its consent agenda: the awarding of consultant services, at a price tag of approximately $429,000, for preparation of an environmental impact report; as well as about $120,000 to pay for an outside assistant project manager.

Both costs will be borne by the oil company—formerly known as ConocoPhillips—which operates the Santa Maria refinery on the Nipomo Mesa. However, preparation of the EIR is expected to incur costs from county staff, which will be recovered from the company through an administrative processing fee of approximately $129,000.

Phillips 66 is asking the county to approve an extension of an existing rail spur at the refinery, which would allow it to directly ship in crude oil via railroad car. The extension would include approximately 1.3 miles of new rail—capable of accommodating a train 80 cars long—0.7 miles of above-ground pipeline, the construction of a restroom facility, and an unpaved emergency vehicle access road from the spur to Highway 1.

The project comes some seven months after the company was granted a request to ramp up its throughput—both crude oil moving in and refined oil transported out—by an additional 10 percent.

Phillips Spokesman Rich Johnson previously told New Times that the rail extension will allow the company to bring in crude from new undisclosed sources, as opposed to California oil fields, as it has traditionally done. He added that the project will create an estimated 30 to 50 temporary jobs during the construction phase and a few full-time positions once it’s completed.

The company hopes to have all permits in place to have the rail operational in 2015.

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