Husky Gets Approval to Rebuild Superior Refinery

Husky has been given approval to rebuild the Superior refinery. Husky has been given approval to rebuild the Superior refinery. |  Photo: WDIO-TV file

Updated: September 30, 2019 02:40 PM

Construction to rebuild the Superior Husky Refinery will begin immediately after getting the green light from the Wisconsin DNR.


Kim Guttormson, the Media & Issues Specialist for Husky Energy, said the company was issued a Prevention of Significant Deterioration Permit to begin reconstruction activities on site.

Now that demolition of the damaged equipment from the April 2018 fire is complete, work will start with preparing the site and installing foundations for equipment. Rebuilding the refinery will take place over the next two years and is expected to be back in full operations in 2021.

“Our continued investment in this refinery and the community will support the Superior-Duluth regional economy through jobs, procurement, taxes and essential energy products for years to come,” said CEO Rob Peabody in a written statement. “The Superior Refinery is an integral part of Husky’s Integrated Corridor business, which maximizes margin capture across the value chain.”

Key features of the rebuild project:

-The modernized refinery will feature Best Available Control Technology, which incorporates advances in technology and efficiencies from across the refining industry.

-The facility will be more energy efficient, in full compliance with federal, state and local regulations.

-The refinery is expected to run in a continuous mode averaging 45,000 barrels per day, which includes a 5,000 barrels per day average increase in heavy oil processing to 25,000 barrels per day.

-The refinery will produce a full slate of products, including asphalt, gasoline and diesel, enhancing Husky’s ability to service the U.S. Midwest market.

-Local contractors and services will be employed in the rebuild whenever possible.

Guttormson said the modernized Refinery will be more energy efficient, with enhanced safety systems and protocols.

This includes additional HF safety enhancements which will be added during the rebuild, including additional layers of water mitigation. Gottermson said the Refinery already has a dedicated water curtain for the HF unit and two water cannons, which worked as designed during the fire last year.

Water is known as a highly effective method of addressing hydrofluoric acid vapors, if needed. The rebuild will include a Rapid Acid Transfer System, which can quickly transfer HF to an independent secure holding tank, and enhanced leak detection, including a laser detection system.

The Refinery will have the same capacity and produce asphalt, gasoline and diesel.

The cost is expected to be substantially covered by insurance. Gottermson added that the improvements to the facility, including enhanced safety features, would be over and above the insurance coverage.

"This is a really important day for us. It’s taken some time to get here, but everyone is looking forward to getting on with the job. We’re really excited about the opportunity to construct a fully modernized refinery that will continue to be an important economic pillar in the community," said Kollin Schade, the Husky Refinery manager.

The Twin Ports Action Alliance have been doing extensive investigating on the harm the refinery explosion caused and were not happy with the news of the rebuild. They sent a written statement to WDIO saying:

"TPAA is disappointed to see Husky has omitted from their rebuild announcement any plans to install VOC air filtration in the surrounding schools who bear the brunt of their air emissions as well as the omission of plans to install publicly accessible real-time fenceline air monitoring which Husky was asked to do in a meeting with TPAA reps this summer."

TPAA spokesperson Ginger Juel said TPAA is deploying particulate air monitors across the Twin Ports this week and said real-time air data can be accessed online.

"The public will not be at the mercy of uninformed public officials who say a black cloud is safe the next time this refinery explodes. We look forward to obtaining the necessary VOC, So2, NOx and HF air monitors as we move forward."

The refinery has about 200 employees and works with numerous contractors and suppliers in the region. During the construction phase, more than 350 contractor jobs are expected to be created at peak.



Copyright 2019 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.


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