Based on new Environmental Protection Agency regulations related to the processing of heavy crude oil, an Ohio refinery needed to modify its existing process to allow feedstock optimization of new Canadian crude. The refinery processes up to 160,000 barrels of crude oil each day. It supplies Midwest businesses with gasoline, diesel, jet fuel, propane, and asphalt.

GEM Inc. took part in one of the largest maintenance and facility building projects at the refinery. Although GEM has had a relationship there for more than 20 years, and continues to provide on-site employees for maintenance services, the refinery’s latest major capital improvement project provided some new challenges.

Overcoming challenges to meet customer business needs

The feedstock optimization project required the replacement of an existing non-compliant desalter with two new desalters. Desalting is usually the first process in crude oil refining. Desalters help to reduce the number of shutdowns while improving the refinery’s available capacity.

Following the modifications, the plant is able to use new Canadian oil and heavy sour crude feedstocks currently processed there. This project expands the refinery’s flexibility to most efficiently process different types of crude oil feedstocks.

GEM Inc. self-performed all skilled trade aspects of the project, including lifting, setting, alignment, and connection of all vessels, equipment, motors, exchangers, pumps, compressors, structural steel, process piping, as well as electrical and instrumentation systems. The desalters each weigh 170,000 pounds. Preparation, transportation, and installation of the desalters was done using a unique gantry system designed by GEM.

Working outdoors during the harsh winter months challenged the crew, particularly during the extensive electrical wire pulls. The planned project turnaround limited refinery down time, with the GEM team working around the clock to complete the project on schedule. In addition, the safety logistics of the project required coordination around on-going refinery operations.

All GEM-led work during the project was conducted safely, resulting in no loss of productivity or incidents.


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