* Coker, crude unit upgrades allow more heavy crude * New units are part of CORE project * New units will be on stream in November Nov 18 (Reuters) - Cenovus Energy Inc's 306,000-barrel-per-day Wood River, Illinois refinery has begun to ramp up operations following the installation of new crude distillation and coking units, a spokesman for partner ConocoPhillips said on Friday. The plant upgrade will allow the refinery to run up to 240,000 bpd of heavy Canadian crude oil. Cenovus is a partner in the refinery with Houston-based ConocoPhillips . The new units will be fully on stream some time this month, said the spokesman. The rest of the refinery continued to be operational throughout the project, he said. Canadian heavy crude prices have been unseasonably strong in recent months, and traders have said a large part of that strength was in anticipation of new demand for the grade that the project produces. The CORE (Coker and Refinery Expansion) project was begun in September of 2008 and adds 65,000 bpd of coking capacity to the refinery, while increasing crude distillation capacity by 50,000 bpd, according to the Cenovus website. Clean product yields are expected to rise by 10 percent to 89 percent once the new units are fully operational, according to the site. The project was expected to come in close to its budgeted $3.6 billion and was only slightly behind schedule, Cenovus' Chief Operating Officer John Brannan said at an investor conference in September.