Today, United Refining Company (United Refining) employs over 4,000 people and is the leading integrated refiner and marketer of petroleum products in its primary market area, which encompasses western New York and northwestern Pennsylvania. United owns and operates a medium complexity 70,000 barrel per day petroleum refinery in Warren, Pennsylvania, where it produces three primary petroleum products: gasoline, distillates and asphalts.
Keeping the United plant running at optimal levels and safely is no small task. DELTA Nooter knows this all too well, given its pivotal involvement in the planning and execution of the recent United Refining plant-wide turnaround, which shut the refinery down during one of the coldest winters on record to achieve a complete overhaul of all key plant vessels, including hundreds of heat exchangers, towers and drums.
“United Refining was nearing the end of their useful run for their fixed equipment and was in need of maintenance to be performed on their various process units,” explained Ben Schulte, senior project manager at DELTA Nooter. “In an effort to save money United Refining made the decision to have one single ‘plant wide’ shutdown.”
During past turnaround events, United elected to execute multiple unit shutdowns, one side of the plant in the spring and the other side in the fall. However, this semi-annual turnaround approach would result in extra shut down costs and also potential processing rate reductions that ultimately decrease profitability.
DELTA Nooter’s Past Turnaround Record Strengthens Partnership
DELTA Nooter is no stranger at United. In fact, DELTA has been the maintenance turnaround contractor of choice, performing the last eight heat exchanger maintenance turnarounds for United Refining. According to Schulte, “Our past performance, value, and experience is what gave us the competitive advantage to win the bid over our competitors. The project was very well planned out.”
United gave DELTA Nooter the opportunity to insert a field planner eight months prior to the start of the plantwide turnaround. The task for this field planner was to work with the Nooter Construction Company (NCC) project planner/scheduler and detail the DELTA Nooter work scope for integration into the entire project schedule. In addition, all production work packages were established; quality assurance/quality control packages and flange management information were also produced.
The safety challenges on the project were immense. “Warren Pennsylvania experienced one of the worst winters in many years,” added Schulte. With some of the coldest temperatures recorded in history pounding the plant, snow continually covered the ground throughout the duration of the turnaround. The key challenges in terms of the safety side included protection and management of both the jobsite labor forces and the specialty exchanger equipment.
According to Chuck Gern, assistant maintenance manager at United Refining, “DELTA Nooter demonstrated exemplary safety and quality control throughout the entire turnaround. We were pleased with the results and look forward to working with Ben Schulte’s team in the future.”
DELTA Nooter performed turnkey heat exchanger services for United Refining, servicing 296 heat exchangers as well as 133 towers, vessels and drums. In addition to using DELTA’s specialty extraction equipment, customized cleaning equipment for both wash-slab cleaning and clean-in-place work was also used. “Despite some extenuating circumstances involving equipment repair, we finished the project on time in 28 days,” noted Schulte. Regardless of a few minor setbacks, DELTA Nooter completed the plant-wide turnaround utilizing 79,400 man hours. With another successful DELTA Nooter turnaround completed, United Refining can rest assured the Warren plant will keep on running smoothly to meet the energy needs of its customers across western New York and northwestern Pennsylvania.