Wood River Refinery has been producing petroleum products for the St. Louis metropolitan area and beyond for over 100 years. WRR is located in Roxana, Illinois (construction started before there was a Village of Roxana) approximately 15 miles north of St. Louis. Petroleum (crude oil) first began arriving by pipeline from Oklahoma and today arrives by various pipelines from Texas/Oklahoma, North Dakota, and Canada. The vast majority of products are shipped by pipelines to St. Louis, to Chicago, and to Columbus, Ohio (via Indianapolis). Products are also shipped by barge via WRR loading docks on the Mississippi River, by rail, and by truck.
Wood River Refinery was originally built by a division of the Royal Dutch Shell group of companies. Today it is owned by a joint venture of Phillips 66 and Cenovus Energy, and is the largest refinery operated by Phillips 66. WRR grew from a small facility processing ~10,000 barrels1 of oil per day to a modern one processing 356,000 barrels per day2.
During WRR’s existence many expansions occurred along with many improvements in refining technology; some were developed at WRR. At the same time WRR and its employees have been contributors to the surrounding communities. The following pages are a decade-by-decade look at some of the events in Wood River Refinery’s history, from the History Museum’s archives. Many of the units described in these articles were eventually demolished and replaced; the units that remain in operation are noted in the articles.
1there are 42 gallons in a barrel of crude oil
2source: U.S. Energy Information Administration, January 1, 2021 report