Husky OH Refinery Down after Blast

Wednesday, January 14, 2015 @ 02:01 PM gHale


Husky Energy Inc.’s 155,000-barrel-per-day (bpd) crude oil refinery in Lima, Ohio, will remain shut down for about a week after a Saturday fire caused extensive damage to a unit at the plant, officials said.

There were no injuries in the blast, which observers heard across the city and shattered nearby windows. Husky said all personnel ended up accounted for at the refinery.

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The blast involved the 26,000-barrel-per-day isocracker unit, according to a source familiar with the facility’s operations but requested anonymity. At the time of the blast, the unit was restarting after maintenance, a second anonymous source said. There was extensive damage to the unit and the nearby ultraformer, which boosts the octane in gasoline, a third sources said.

An isocracker is a type of hydrocracking unit, which uses hydrogen under high heat and pressure to increase the amount of motor fuels made from crude oil.

“It’s going to be a long time for that (isocracker) to ramp up again,” said Matt Bridges, a fire department spokesman. While the unit’s reactors remained intact, the pumps and compressors were “gone,” Bridges said.

The fire, which began about 6 a.m. Saturday was out by Sunday morning.

A source familiar with the plant’s operations said they have good stockpiles of diesel and jet. The plant has eight tanks for gasoline, which are about 60 percent full, the person said.

Output halted with the units on “circulation” to keep them warm, according to one source.

Husky spokesman Mel Duvall said on Saturday “it was too early” to assess the impact on production. “We do have substantial product in inventory to continue to supply customers,” he said.

A source said the isocracker is in a section of the refinery called the Lima Integration Unit, built around 1970. The section includes the crude unit, hydrocracker, naphtha hydrotreater, and reformer, which is the most modern part of the plant, according to documents filed with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.

The isocracker unit, however, did suffer damage in a 2009 fire.

The refinery gets about 65,000 bpd of crude imported from Canada, a mix of light and medium grades, according to the latest data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration. In addition, it runs domestically produced crude oil.

Husky Energy Inc. said the one-week shutdown is precautionary. It says the refinery will still be able to operate even with the damage to one of its processing units.

Husky is Canada’s third largest integrated energy company and controlled by Hong Kong billionaire Li Ka-shing.

Investigators are still looking for the cause of the incident.



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