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Snowiest Winter on Record Fails to Hinder Ohio Refinery Turnaround

Among major U.S. cities, the Weather Channel pronounced Toledo, Ohio as the winter misery champ in 2013-2014; the coldest in fact since 1978 and the snowiest on record for the region. Regardless of the dismal label, RMF Nooter and the BP-Husky Refinery in Oregon, Ohio forged ahead on what was a large but not so typical turnaround project due to the wrath of Mother Nature.

Located in an eastern suburb of Toledo, the BP-Husky Refinery is near the mouth of the Maumee River, on the western end of Lake Erie. BP’s history in Ohio dates back nearly 150 years when John D. Rockefeller founded Standard Oil of Ohio, which then became part of the Standard Oil Trust; BP acquired Standard Oil of Ohio in 1987. The Toledo plant, now jointly owned by BP and Husky Energy, Inc., has a processing capacity of 160,000 barrels a day.

In 2012, BP-Husky’s economic impact on Ohio was significant. The oil and gas giant donated $720,000 to community organizations in Ohio; supported more than 6,000 jobs, employed 760 people, and spent at least $435 million with more than 3,000 vendors statewide.

Winter Weather Creates Challenge

With a long history of serving the BP-Husky Refinery, RMF Nooter and the turnaround team at BP-Husky are no strangers to the cold temperatures and the accompanying lake effect snow. However, even the most seasoned RMF Nooter and BP-Husky staff will agree this project was impacted by and prevailed over conditions unlike anything they had experienced in the past.

“The adverse weather conditions were definitely a challenge,” said Don Majchrowski, Vice President & General Manager at RMF Nooter. “We were tasked with completing over 100,000 manhours of pre-turnaround work activities through the winter months in order to achieve a critical schedule that ensured BP-Husky operations were not negatively affected.”
According to RMF Nooter Construction Manager Mike Watson, “We typically define turnarounds over 250,000 manhours as large. This project, including staff and all capital work activities, came in at over 700,000 manhours.”

Watson continued, “The turnaround project was monumental especially when you consider the winter temperatures we were all subjected to so early on. We knew as the cold continued that productivity and safety could be adversely impacted but through diligent planning and execution the turnaround was completed with strong performances in safety, quality, and productivity.”

Over 1,200 RMF Nooter employees partnered with the BPHusky team with safety and quality in mind across all areas of the turnaround, including the critical path portions of the project. These included the alteration of two reactors in the Isocracker Unit. A fundamental Unit at the end of the processing phase, the Isocracker converts heavy hydrocarbons into lighter fuels such as high-octane gasoline or high-grade fuel oil through the catalytic addition of hydrogen.

In addition to the revamping of the Isocracker reactors, several other important processing Units required significant maintenance including Crude/Vac 2, Alky, East Flare, and Hydrogen.

Safety and Quality Are Good Business
Safety is top value for RMF Nooter and the BP-Husky Refinery. Integral to BP-Husky’s safety mantra is the idea that everything the company and its operations do ensures the safety of its workforce and the surrounding communities.

“BP-Husky recognizes the important role of contractors working as one team with BP-Husky to support our operations and the need for them to perform their work in compliance with applicable health, safety, environmental and engineering performance standards and requirements,” explained Jose Monteiro, Turnaround Superintendent at BP-Husky. Monteiro continued, “While the winter weather conditions created a slight delay, the turnaround was an overall success with more than 7,000 successful welds, 28 critical lifts, and over 700,000 manhours completed.”

The BP-Husky Refinery is currently running at full capacity with the ability to substitute the crude oil feedstocks from their Sunrise oil field development in Canada and other heavy sour crude oil feedstocks currently being processed at the refinery.
As the United States seeks to become more energy independent, successful completion of refinery construction projects such as those recently completed by RMF Nooter at the BP-Husky Refinery remain high priority for the largest refining and petrochemical contractor in Ohio.

“Confidence and peace of mind for the customer are key attributes we provide,” Majchrowski explained with pride. “These project assurances are delivered because we employ more skilled craftsmen, welders, safety professionals, quality professionals, and project management professionals than any mechanical and electrical industrial contractor in the region.”

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