PBF Energy Co. acquired the Delaware City refinery from Valero in June 2010, recognizing the investment required to return the facility to a fully operational status. PBF Energy Co. identified significant maintenance work, including a large capital project to upgrade and prepare for a startup and reopening of the refinery in May, 2011.
With a throughput capacity of 190,000 bpd and a complex configuration with several large-scale processing units, the Delaware City refinery can process a diverse heavy slate of crudes with a high concentration of high sulfur crudes making it one of the largest and most complex refineries on the East Coast.
Given the complex turnaround scenario, PBF Energy sought a contractor with extensive FCCU Unit maintenance experience, which Nooter Construction Company (Nooter) is well known for in the industry. It was a bonus that Nooter had already worked on many projects at the refinery under the former ownership.
Jack Burke, senior contracting engineer with Nooter Construction, elaborated on the project’s complexity:
“Coming into a facility that had been shut down—and not knowing its condition at that time—was a challenge in reopening the equipment. We were going to totally rebuild the internals of the unit—the regenerator and reactor, demo’ing the entire internals of both vessels and then [we had] a total new design and equipment to put in place.”
Nooter was tasked with completely rebuilding the internals of the FCCU Unit—the regenerator and reactor, rebuilding the outdated vessels to achieve enhanced capacity.
Once again, past experience in rebuilding this type of equipment utilizing in-house rigging, engineering and on-site field engineers for the intricate layout and build was the main reason Nooter was chosen as the contractor of choice to perform this work.
Nooter replaced major components as part of the $31 million project, including the 12 single-stage reactor cyclones and 18 pairs of new regenerator cyclones, associated plenums, the regenerator air grid distribution system, and a riser line.
Developing a workable strategy that optimized the six-month construction schedule within plot plan limitations of the fluid catalytic cracking unit presented challenges. The traditional approach of lifting the full regenerator head onto a jig stand would have required a much larger crane and a much larger plot space than was available. To address this situation, Nooter worked with their in-house rigging engineers to devise an approach involving removal of only the top “cap” with the plenum and inner ring of cyclones.
Nooter completed the job, putting in 190,000 hours with no recordable or lost-time accidents. More than half of the stainlesssteel welding was performed prior to installing the internals of the reactor.
“Safety and quality are the key ingredients for any project,” said Burke. “With all of these man hours and the site conditions, to do that without any injury was a feat.”
Upon completion of the restart of the refinery, Nooter Construction was retained as the single “Contractor of Choice” in the refinery, providing full mechanical maintenance support along with Capital Projects Construction work.