Refinery flares up in readiness for maintenance

By Mike Barrington

Flames flaring from the chimney of the hydrocracking unit at the Marsden Pt oil refinery this week will signal its shutdown for maintenance starting on Friday.

Refining NZ manager Peter Gubb said the flaring would allow hydrocarbons to be vented safely so the 30,000-barrel-a-day unit could be cleaned and its catalyst (top-bed-skim) replaced.

Furnace cleaning to remove coke build-up and the inspection of one of three sulphur recovery units would also be carried out. The 10-day "pit stop" would prepare the refinery for a major hydrocracker shutdown early next year, Mr Gubb said. Some 120 people would be involved in the maintenance work, most from contracting companies already working at the refinery.

Mr Gubb said refinery customers had been notified and the shutdown scheduled to ensure supplies would not be disrupted. Plans had been made to ensure there was no negative impact on the community or environment, he said.

- Northern Advocate

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