Ponca City Refinery
An oil company called the Continental Oil and Transportation Company formed in 1875 in Utah. By 1929, the company moved to Ponca City, Oklahoma and established a home base territory there. At that point they took over the Marland Oil Company, and began to operate the refinery based in Ponca City.
The company, now known as ConocoPhillips, opened up their own brand of gas stations called Union 76. It was well known by its symbol of a large orange ball with the number 76 stamped in the middle. This logo became their calling card until 2005, when the company went through a period of rebranding and established a new logo.
In 2003, the facility in Ponca City went through a serious fire. The flames were seen to rise as high as 100 feet up, and the air was filled with a thick black smoke that could be seen for miles. Estimates claimed that the cloud of smoke rose up to 3,000 feet into the sky. The fire was a result of a large explosion within the plant. Three people were injured during the incident - two suffered from burns and one was hurt from a fall - but the injuries were generally considered to be minor.
It took fire fighters just a couple of hours to contain the blaze within a confined area, and they were able to continue the work and eventually put out the fire completely.
The refinery did not shut down following the blaze. It was partially evacuated, but work continued at the plant. Damages to the facility were repaired over a two week period, after which production resumed as normal.
2006 was a good year for the plant as they were recognized by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) for their strong safety record. OSHA sponsors the Voluntary Protection Program, and the picks industrial facilities and name them as "Star Sites" based on their achievements in the field of employee and environmental safety. ConocoPhillips was honored to receive this honor, which was given to them largely based on their records of work related injury or illness being up to 27% lower than the industry standard.
ConocoPhillips may now have a safe work environment, but earlier in the plant's history that was not the case. The Ponca City refinery utilized many products that were created with asbestos, which was later discovered to be a highly toxic substance. Anyone who was within the plant while it contained asbestos was put at risk of exposure, and that can lead to painful respiratory problems and a cancerous disease called mesothelioma. Those who were employed at the plant can talk to their doctor if they feel they may have been exposed.
Currently, the plant operates at full velocity and is able to produce up to 194,000 barrels of crude oil each day. They work with the local community to maintain a positive relationship, and are proud of their participation in home town events.
Last modified: December 09, 2009.