March 12, 2012

The Regulatory Status of On-Spec Used Oil Inserted Into Refinery Operations

To take advantage of the §279.10(g)(3) exemption, two requirements must be met: 1) the used oil must be inserted into the refining process prior to crude distillation or catalytic cracking, and 2) the volume of used oil must be less than 1% of the crude oil feed to any given process unit. The §279.10(g)(3) exemption makes no distinction between on-spec or off-spec used oil as defined in §279.11. Is on-spec used oil subject to the 1% limitation of §279.10(g)(3)?

In answering this question, EPA turned to its interpretation of §279.10(g)(4) that allows an unlimited volume of on-spec used oil to be inserted into refining operations after crude distillation or catalytic cracking. EPA had previously stated, “…on-specification used oil may be burned in the same manner as virgin petroleum fuel in other situations, therefore it makes little sense to restrict its use as a feedstock to the petroleum coker (or in any other process ‘after’ crude distillation or catalytic cracking).” [March 4, 1994; 59 FR 10554]

Although §279.10(g)(3) is silent on the distinction between on-spec and off-spec used oil, the agency recently issued guidance that this distinction is important: “…because we specifically stated that it does not make any sense to limit the amount of on-specification used oil inserted after the crude distillation or catalytic cracking unit, which provides additional contaminant reduction, we did not intend to limit the amount that can be inserted before.” [RO 14829]

It’s well established that on-spec used oil burned for energy recovery is not subject to Part 279. In addition, §279.10(g)(4) exempts on-spec used oil when used as a feedstock after crude distillation or catalytic cracking. “The basis for this determination is that on-specification used oil is equivalent to virgin fuel oil for regulatory purposes.” [RO 14829] Therefore, EPA’s interpretation is that on-spec used oil is exempt from Part 279 when used as a feedstock in petroleum refinery operations—regardless of whether it is inserted before or after crude distillation or catalytic cracking.

 


©2012-2019 McCoy and Associates, Inc. All rights reserved.

McCoy and Associates has provided in-depth information to assist environmental professionals with complex compliance issues since 1982. Our seminars and publications are widely trusted by environmental professionals for their consistent quality, clarity, and comprehensiveness.

 

Disclaimer

Considerable care has been exercised in preparing this document; however, McCoy and Associates, Inc. makes no representation, warranty, or guarantee in connection with the publication of this information. McCoy and Associates, Inc. expressly disclaims any liability or responsibility for loss or damage resulting from its use or for the violation of any federal, state, or municipal law or regulation with which this information may conflict. McCoy and Associates, Inc. does not undertake any duty to ensure the continued accuracy of this information.

This document addresses issues of a general nature related to the federal RCRA regulations. Persons evaluating specific circumstances dealing with the RCRA regulations should review state and local laws and regulations, which may be more stringent than federal requirements. In addition, the assistance of a qualified professional should be enlisted to address any site-specific circumstances.