The company planning to build the new oil refinery at Belfield has hired an engineering and construction firm to complete the “front end engineering and design” study for the refinery.
It’s being done in anticipation of the state Health Department giving the company the permit to construct the refinery.
"We are fairly certain there will be no substantial changes to that permit from the draft that was issued in December," said Meridian CEO William Prentice.
Prentice said he expects the final permits will be issued soon.
"The state has declared, and it's proper, that it will take its time to do this right," Prentice said in an interview. "They're obviously aware of the benefits of the project, so they're not going to dither around.
Prentice said he's confident the final decision will come out "in a matter of weeks."
"We just don't understand what additional delays there could be," Prentice said. "But it's beyond our control."
Prentice said his company went through the substantial number of public comments received in the hearing process.
"Nothing we received indicated to us there would be substantial changes to the air quality permit draft," Prentice said. "That allows us to finish up the engineering, and be ready to begin construction as soon as that permit is issued."
Prentice said the initial phase – the 27,500 barrel refinery – should be completed by the middle of 2019. He said Meridian could go to 50,000 barrels a day without requesting a new permit. But he said if the company sees more need for expansion beyond that, it would file for a new permit.
The Davis Refinery will produce gasoline, diesel fuel and maritime fuel.