…hydrotreater to increase capacity from 256,000 bpd to 436,000 bpd. Fluor also is in the midst of a $2.2-billion heavy-oil upgrade to increase capacity from 102,000 bpd to 115,000 bpd at the oil company’s Detroit refinery. The project is expected to be completed in late 2012.

Next year, CB&I will complete work on a $657-million expansion to double the output of gasoline and diesel at Hunt Refining Co.’s refinery in Tuscaloosa, Ala. The company is also providing services for ConocoPhillips and EnCana Corp.’s$3.6-billion renovation of the Wood River Refinery in Roxana,Ill. Scheduled to be completed in 2011, the expansion will enable the facility to refine the heavier, sediment-laden crude oil founding Canada’s oil sands and double its capacity to 240,000 bpd.

Jacobs, Pasadena, Calif., is continuing to work on the $3.8-billionmodernization project of the BP Whiting Refinery in Indiana and recently expanded its role to include construction management services. The firm’s portion of the program focuses on the sulfur-recovery complex, which includes multiple new sulfur-recovery units, tail gas units, amines units and sour-water strippers in addition to significant modifications to existing units, utilities and control systems.

When completed in 2011, the Whiting Refinery will be equipped to process increased amounts of Canadian crude oil, and gasoline production will increase to 1.7 million gallons a day.

But plummeting energy consumption and prices stalled the once robust refinery market. Despite a jump above $71 a barrel on June 29, crude-oil prices are expected to remain relatively flat for the rest of the year, averaging about $55 per barrel during the second half of 2009, according to the International Energy Agency. The agency also predicts the sluggish economy will decrease global daily average oil consumption by 2.6 million barrels to 83.2 million barrels, down 3% from 2008.

Instability of oil prices and consumer demand has translated into increasing volatility of companies’ refinery-project plans. “The big boom of refinery projects is behind us,” says Oosterveer. “In the short term, there are not a lot of sizable refinery investments being made in the U.S.”

The sharp drop in prices and consumption also has slowed development of Canada’s flourishing oil sands, where high production costs require prices to be in the $60 to $80 a barrel range for projects to be profitable. In the past year, approximately 70%of oil-sands projects were shelved, according to a report by global energy consultant group IHS Cambridge Energy Research Associates.

Controversy over the environmental impact of developing the oil sands is another factor threatening to delay projects. Greenpeace and 29 other North American environmental groups signed a joint declaration in June calling for the U.S. and Canada to cease expansion of the Alberta oil sands and boost investments in clean energy.

Clean and Green
But researchers with the Council on Foreign Relations concluded that prudent greenhouse-gas regulations could safely limit emissions while allowing for robust development of the oil sands, according to a CFR report. “Smart regulation can place a fair and reasonable price on the oil sands’ greenhouse-gas emissions, providing the right incentive to reduce them,” says the report’s author, Michael A. Levi, the David M. Rubenstein senior fellow for energy and the environment at CFR.

1 Fluor Corp.
3 Jacobs
4 Bechtel
5 Mustang Engineering
6 Foster Wheeler AG
7 URS Corp.
9 The Shaw Group Inc.
10 S&B Holdings Ltd. and Affiliates
12 ENGlobal Corp.
13 UniversalPegasus
14 WorleyParsons Corp.
15 McDermott International Inc.
16 Fugro (USA) Inc.
17 CDI Engineering Solutions
18 Willbros Group Inc.
19 AkerSolutions
20 CB&I
21 Gulf Interstate Engineering Co.
22 Ambitech Engineering Corp.
23 Wink Cos. LLC
24 ATC Associates Inc.
25 Corrpro Cos. Inc.

Despite the contentious debate and costs, Imperial Oil, the Canadian subsidiary of ExxonMobil, is moving forward with its Kearl Lake project, a surface mining operation northeast of Fort McMurray, Alberta, where reserves are second only to Saudi Arabia’s. The project is being developed in three phases and could ultimately produce more than 300,000 barrels of bitumen per day. The first phase will cost $8 billion and produce an average of 110,000 bpd starting in late 2012.

Other companies are following Imperial Oil’s lead and cautiously resuming work to develop the oil sands. “A lot of those projects likely will not complete the front-end engineering work until 2010, so it will be a while before procurement and construction begins on those jobs,” says Rob Smith, senior vice president of Englewood, Colo.-based CH2M Hill. “Once those projects are put into production, it will revive the refinery and pipeline industries because there will be a need to process that bitumen and move it to market.”