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Frontier project to modernize refinery facility

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  • #4159


    By STEVE SMITH Times Staff Writer
    Published: Tuesday, August 22, 2006 9:17 AM CDT

    “We haven’t started construction yet,” Jim Stump assured his audience last Thursday evening, so the cart certainly won’t be getting ahead of the horse before it has jumped through all the regulatory hoops.
    Actually, from the knowing chuckles of the people seated with him it was clear that was something they were already well aware of.  However, Stump said, the plant he heads up is well into the planning for the event the meeting they were at had been set up for.

    Stump is vice president and refinery manager at Frontier El Dorado Refining Co., whose parent company is Frontier Oil Corp.
    He joined officials with the Kansas Department of Health and Environment, who had scheduled a meeting at the El Dorado Civic Center to get an early heads-up on any comments or concerns the public might have about the project which is about to be launched at the El Dorado refinery.

    Even though chairs set up for informal question-and-answer meeting remained empty, it was an opportunity for Stump to provide an update on Frontier’s $140 million crude expansion project.
    The 30-day public comment period on KDHE’s draft permit for the project began Aug. 10 and is currently scheduled to end at the close of business on Sept. 11. “Hopefully, if things go smoothly,” said Dana Morris, a permit engineer in KDHE’s Bureau of Air and Radiation, Frontier will have its permit in late September. “Once we get the permit,” Stump said, “we’ll move on into constructiion.”
    So far, he said, the project (through which the refinery’s existing 1955-constructed crude unit will be modernized, meaning a “good portion” of the refinery will be modernized and the “overall economics” of the plant will be improved) is on schedule and on budget and should be completed in March of 2008.  Stump said Frontier should be “hard and heavy” into construction by January of next year.
    For some 15 to 18 months, he said, El Dorado’s visitation will be supplemented by “lots and lots” of contract employees.

    He said that figure should run into “several hundred,” with that figure likely to peak at around 400 to 500.
    “Most of the time,” he said, “at least a few hundred” contract employees will be in El Dorado.
    In dollars, Stump said, about $90 million of the project will be located on a clean or “green field work” site, meaning other refinery operations can continue on uninterrupted.
    Around March 1, 2008, he said, a refinery “turnaround” is scheduled to start, and that is when the contract employee workforce will “really be in here” to make all the final tie-ins and last-minute changes in the process unit.

    About four weeks later, he said, “we’ll start up with a new crude unit.”
    Stump said the crude unit is the “bottleneck” point in the refinery’s operations.
    Through the project, he said, more crude oil can be run through the refinery, increasing its throughput.

    In terms of yields, he said, the refinery’s existing crude unit is out of date, so an updated plant will also make for a better situation there.
    There could be improvements in the different products that unit makes, he said, and with the refinery now having access to heavy, sour but cheaper Canadian crude oil the new crude unit will allow the refinery to process that oil.
    Stump said the project will result in one major change in the El Dorado skyline.
    The refinery’s centerpiece is its vacuum tower, which he said will now top out at about 190 feet off the ground.
    “With this project we’re not adding significant headcount” to the refinery’s employment, Stump said.
    While old equipment will be replaced with bigger and better pieces, he said, “it really doesn’t take any more people to run it or take care of it.”

    For the El Dorado community, said Bill Kloeblen, Frontier’s manager of human resources, the crude expansion project “solidifies our future” in this city. While Frontier is already on “very solid” footing in El Dorado, he said, Frontier’s investment in the project “is a significant vote for the future of our facility in El Dorado.”
    Operating the new equipment should be a “fairly straightforward” matter, Stump said, since refinery employees are already operating the same type of equipment.

    However, he said, there will still be “quite a bit of training” for operating the new equipment and “a lot effort” put into that.
    “These guys make us do things better when we spend a lot of money and improve the plant,” Stump quipped of the KDHE officials seated with him and the permit process Frontier is currently engaged in.

    Because of their oversight, he said, there will be a “significant reduction” in pollution through the project on a per barrel basis.
    With “much more modernized” equipment, he said, there will be “quite a bit” of reduction in refinery emissions.
    “We’re hoping for sometime in October,” Stump said of when the first contract employees working on the crude expansion project will be arriving in El Dorado.

  • #7547

    Charles Randall

    Update on Frontier’s $140 MM El Dorado Crude expansion – that will add another 10 MBD of heavy crude capacity that raises the 110 MBD to 120 MBD for the refinery – not mentioned but it will also add additional coker charge as well. The El Dorado refinery in 2Q 2003 added +8 MBD capacity ($16MM expansion) that also added +2.2 MBD of coker charge ($10MM expansion). The project is expected to complete in March/1Q 2008, in time for a Turnaround to tie-in the Greenfield portions.
    The $140 MM expansion for El Dorado not only includes the Crude & Vac tower replacement but a 24MBD Diesel HDS & 35 MMSCFD Hydrogen Unit (CB&I is doing the project work on all the units).

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