September 27, 2005

White House wants to expand refinery capacity

BEAUMONT, Texas (Reuters) - The White House on Tuesday said
it wants to work on ways to expand U.S. oil refining capacity
to increase the gasoline supply.

"That is something that we believe needs to be addressed,"
White House spokesman Scott McClellan told reporters traveling
with President George W. Bush to the hurricane-hit zone.

Thirteen oil refineries were still shut due to Hurricane
Rita and four others remained offline after Hurricane Katrina,
together accounting for about 2 million barrels per day in lost
gasoline production, according to the government's energy
forecasting agency.

"There are a number of people that have expressed to the
president that they would like to expand their existing
operations, but the time and cost of it is very restrictive,"
he said.

"There are others who would like to be able to build new
refineries to meet some of the demand and again, because of the
regulations and rules it's costly and time-consuming and
restrictive," McClellan said.

"The president is concerned about the fact that refineries
are utilized at a rate higher than 90 percent right now and it
takes three to four years to permit a refinery. That's too
long," he said, adding that they need to look at ways to
shorten the time for permits.

McClellan said it would take legislation and there were
some proposals expected to emerge from Congress.

"Yes, we're looking at ways to address this issue," he