Cenovus Says Superior Refinery Will Be Fully Back On Line by June

SUPERIOR, Wis. — It was five years ago that the skies over Superior were filled with thick black smoke. Wednesday, the owners of the refinery said they have slowly ramped up to about half capacity, and hope to be operating in full later this spring.

Five years ago, the smoke coming from what was then the Husky Plant, had Twin Ports residents on edge.

A fire at what was then the Husky Refinery, forced many people to be evacuated, and lead to extensive studying of what went wrong.

Two years ago, Husky Energy merged with Cenovus Energy, and that is the name of the new facility. During an earnings call Thursday, the company said they have been operating at about half capacity since mid-March.

The Vice President of Downstream Manufacturing, Keith Chiasson, said a number of changes have been made in the new plant, including new control systems to improve safety, as well as new training materials, simulators, and field training.  The company said they took steps to get ready for starting and ramping up production.

“We were able to commission and start up the crude unit so we’re processing 20 to 30,000 barrels a day on the crude unit and producing finished product out of that asset,” said Chiasson.

The company said they expect the plant to ramp up to full crude production of 49,000 barrels a day in May and stay at full production going forward.

During and after the fire, a lot of attention was focused on the Hydrogen Fluoride, or HF unit.

Despite the fire, that unit did not fail, but the company says it has added more safety features.

They include a special paint at connection points that changes color if there is a leak, seven new remote-control water cannons, and the new HF tank will be able to send the hydrogen fluoride to a secure holding tank during an emergency.

The total cost to rebuild the refinery is approximately $1.2 billion dollars. The company expects that cost to mostly be covered by insurance.

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