Oil refinery plans to take a breather

By Mike Dinsdale

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Expect to see some flaring coming from the stacks at Marsden Pt Oil Refinery during its maintenance shutdown from next Friday. Photo / File
Expect to see some flaring coming from the stacks at Marsden Pt Oil Refinery during its maintenance shutdown from next Friday. Photo / File

The Marsden Pt Oil Refinery will shut down for three weeks from Friday as the country's only fuel processor goes through regular maintenance work.

Process units at the Refining NZ refinery at Marsden Pt will begin shutting down for planned maintenance starting on Friday with the three week shutdown allowing regeneration of the catalyst on the refinery's platformer unit, and other maintenance essential to the ongoing reliability and safety of the refinery.

Refining manager Peter Gubb said the shutdown has been months in the planning and will need extra resources on site, including an additional 300 people, the majority from local contracting companies working at the refinery. The shutdown puts several million dollars into the local economy from the maintenance work.

"The regular shutdown on the platformer every 18 months gives us the opportunity to remove coke and other build-up from catalyst which makes it less effective than it should be.

"Other activity includes the inspection, maintenance, and cleaning of related equipment (steam systems, electricity utilities, heat exchangers, and furnaces)," Mr Gubb said.

"The refinery will also carry out the first internal inspection on CDU1 (Crude Distiller Unit) since the Point Forward expansion in 2009, and tie-in in key components for the ongoing Te Mahi Hou expansion."

The shutdown has been scheduled into product supply plans and agreements with the refinery's oil company customers to ensure that product availability isn't affected.

Mr Gubb said the refinery is working to minimise the impact of the shutdown for local residents and has developed a Health, Safety and Environment plan to ensure it proceeds safely and without impacting the local community or the environment.

"There will be flaring when we're shutting down and starting up process units, a key safeguarding process that allows hydrocarbons to be vented when units are being de-pressurised," he said.

Earlier this year Refining NZ started the $365 million Te Mahi Hou expansion to the Marsden Pt oil refinery.

The Continuous Catalyst Regeneration Platformer project will lift the refinery's capabilities up to 80 per cent of all New Zealand's fuel needs, providing a more reliable fuel source for the country. Construction will create about 300 on-site jobs and hundreds more off-site over the next four years.

- Northern Advocate

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