Cushing has been home to refineries before, but the last closed decades ago.
In 2006, a development group including the Sac & Fox Nation and SemGroup Inc. announced plans for a $4 billion, 150,000-barrel-per-day refinery near Cushing. The project stalled as refined product demand collapsed during the recession.
The country's economics and the oil industry both have changed since 2006. Oklahoma Energy Secretary Mike Ming said he has heard of no recent discussions about a new refinery in Cushing, but that the site might make sense.
“We would certainly look seriously at a new refinery possibility,” Ming said.
“The new supplies have come on so fast and at such a magnitude that I think it is a discussion worth having. Anytime you can take advantage of pricing or geographies, the consumer can benefit from that.”
But don't expect anything soon.
“Refineries are big capital-investment projects that require long-term commitments and a lot of permitting,” Ming said. “Building a new refinery is a much bigger challenge than upgrading an existing refinery.”