Post-Shell at the Wood River Refinery

Wood River Refinery statistics graph

Graph of Wood River Refinery oil processing and employment statistics over time. Created by Mary Z. Rose. See exhibit page Selected Bibliography for information about sources used for the statistics.

After being run by Shell for over eighty years, the Wood River Refinery became the property of a Shell-Texaco joint venture called Equilon in 1998. In 1999, the refinery employed 1,050 people, including 640 union employees.

Tosco Corp. purchased the refinery from Equilon in 2000. The new owner shifted emphasis from diversification back to making petroleum products. It also reduced the workforce from 920 workers down to 700.

In 2001, Phillips Petroleum Co. purchased Tosco Corp. A few months later, Phillips announced its imminent merger with Conoco to form ConocoPhillips. The Wood River facility processed 280,000 barrels of crude oil daily in 2002. A year later, the refinery’s processing increased to 285,000 barrels.

The Wood River Refinery got authorization from the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency in 2008 for a major upgrade. The three-year, $3.8 billion CORE (Coker and Refinery Expansion) project equipping the refinery to process Canadian Alberta oil sands crude began in 2009.


Wood River Refinery coker at night, 2017. MCHS photograph courtesy of the Wood River Refinery.

In 2017, the 2,200-acre facility operated by Phillips 66 employs 885 people. The refinery’s three crude units process 314,000 barrels of crude daily. About half of the crude becomes gasoline and a quarter becomes diesel fuel. An eighth of the crude transforms into jet fuel, delivered directly to Lambert International Airport in St. Louis via pipeline and fulfilling 99% of the airport’s needs. The facility also generates asphalt for road surfacing.1


1Refinery information and statistics for 2017 from speakers and refinery tour at Wood River Refinery Annual Community Leaders’ Dinner, 2017.