New Heavy Equipment’s Arrival Marks Milestone in 2022 Completion of Husky Rebuild

So far the Spring of 2022 is when operations are set to resume, and officials said the arrival of the Vacuum Column is a big step.

SUPERIOR, Wis.- The Husky Refinery in Superior makes another step forward in rebuilding after the 2018 explosion with a major piece of hardware stored at Fraser Shipyards — ready for installation.

So far officials with Husky say the project is still pushed back a year after the pandemic halted construction from March until June, but they said they’re on track to be up and running by Spring 2022.

“As you can see behind me we’re starting to reach some more real milestones with the project, with the rebuild project we’re going through,” said Superior Refinery Plant Manager Kollin Schade, gesturing to the massive, wrapped piece of equipment sitting at Fraser.

A replacement for the Husky Energy Refinery’s Vacuum Column, a major piece used in separating the heaviest parts of crude oil into asphalt and other heavy fuel products.

“This is the only vessel in the entire refinery processing area that actually operates under a vacuum,” Schade said. “Most of our vessels operate under some sort of pressure could be lower pressure could be higher pressure.”

At 123 ft and 180 tons, this is the biggest piece yet and a big step in the rebuild according to Schade.

With the civil work of laying foundations, grounding grid and sewer lines wrapping up, by the end of the year he said they hope to be at grade-level– with installation of pieces like this marking the next step.

“We’ll start erecting the structural steel, and that’s what a lot of the pipes will rest on that’s what a lot of these vessels will rest on as they come into the refinery,” said the plant manager.

So far the spring of 2022 is when operations are set to resume, but even then it will be a gradual startup.

“We’re gonna go through this very very deliberate very systematic to ensure all the safety needs and operations is in place from that perspective so it’s gonna take a very long time to get this thing fully up and operational,” Schade said.

Throughout the rebuild process, Schade said no has been laid off; 500 employees are still on site helping with the rebuild. “We have a lot of work to do to improve the safety out there, understand how all these new units are gonna work when they come back up so everybody’s been fully busy.”

And he said while adapting to the pandemic and Northland weather, they are still staying on track.

“We’re dealing with the same thing you guys are in the public everybody out there we have out 500 people and we’re out there wearing masks and safety glasses and we’re struggling with frozen ground and snow just like everybody else is,” said Schade.

The plant manager also mentioned that Husky’s merger with Cenovus Energy last month did not have any impact on the refinery here.

According to Husky officials, they expect to move the vacuum column to the Refinery at the beginning of December, very late at night, to avoid obstructing any traffic.

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