UPDATE 1-Conoco seeks quick hearing on Idaho highway ban

* Conoco says delay could cost it $9 million

* Says refinery overhall may be delayed until summer 2011
(Adds quotes, background)

By Erwin Seba

HOUSTON, Aug 27 (BestGrowthStock) – ConocoPhillips (COP.N: ) asked
the Idaho Supreme Court for an expedited hearing on a lower
court ruling that prevents the company from moving giant
refinery units on a rural highway through the state.

Conoco said further delay could prevent its Billings,
Montana, refinery from completing an overhaul this year and
cost the Houston-based company $9 million.

“If this window (for the move) is missed, ConocoPhillips
likely will be forced to delay shipment until spring 2011,
causing the needed repairs to be postponed until late summer
2011,” attorney Scott Randolph wrote in a brief filed on
Conoco’s behalf with the Idaho Supreme Court.

An attorney for those opposed to the move said Conoco’s
deadline keeps changing.

“It bears underscoring that Conoco’s allegations of some
’emergency’ are self-serving claims that do not justify
expedited review, supplanting the many other cases pending
before this Court,” Laird Lucas, an attorney with Advocates for
the West, wrote in a brief to the court.

The $9 million “represents an immaterially small amount of
money to Conoco,” Lucas wrote. “The world’s third largest oil
company, Conoco recently reported earning profits of $4.2
billion in the second quarter alone.”

Conoco wants to move giant coking unit drums, weighing up
to 323 tons (293 metric tons) and stretching 225 feet (68.58
meters), from the port of Lewiston, Idaho, along U.S. Highway
12 to the state’s border with Montana.

A bridge on the roadway is undergoing repairs throughout
the summer and portions of the highway are in the mountains and
can expect heavy snowfall as early as October, which would
prevent movement of the coke drums.

On Tuesday, Idaho Judge John Bradbury sided with the
opponents who said traffic interruptions could cause lengthy
delays in emergency travel to area hospitals.

As part of his ruling, Bradbury overturned permits issued
by the Idaho Transportation Department for movement of the
units.

Bradbury also said a contractor Conoco hired to move the
equipment had not made adequate preparations for loss of one of
the giant pieces of equipment, which could block the highway
for weeks.

The coker drums at the 60,000 barrel per day (bpd) refinery
were last replaced in 1992 and are nearing the end of their
operational life, Billings refinery manager Steven Steach said
in an affidavit filed with the Idaho Supreme Court.

Imperial Oil (IMO.TO: ) and Exxon Mobil Corp (XOM.N: ) want to
use the highway to move equipment needed to develop the $8
billion Kearl oil sands project in Alberta. Imperial has
declined to discuss the possible effect of the Conoco case on
the Kearl project.
(Editing by Gary Hill)

UPDATE 1-Conoco seeks quick hearing on Idaho highway ban