Commonwealth Journal

November 15, 2012

Refinery preparing to begin production within a few weeks

by Bill Mardis
Commonwealth Journal

Somerset —  

Sometime between late this month and mid-December the former Somerset Refinery will resume operation.
Missy Shorey, spokesperson for what is now Continental Refining Company (CRC) said this week installation of a new flare system is on track for completion and indicated the refinery should be up and running within a month.
As of Wednesday, 30 employees are on the payroll at the refinery and another is expected to come on board next week, Shorey said. A total of between 40 and 50 job positions will be filled when the refinery reaches full production. 
A ribbon cutting and opening ceremony will be held shortly after the refinery is operational, Shorey said. CRC owner Demetrios Haseotes indicated the ceremony will reflect on the history of the iconic industry and its value to this area.
Somerset Refinery, for many years one of Somerset’s most dependable industries, declined in recent years. It went through several owners; through allegedly broken promises; through bankruptcy; and through property auctions. The refinery was shut down for nearly two years, and last December the property off Monticello Street was purchased by Continental Refining Company, a Somerset-based corporation.
While upgrading the plant it was discovered the existing flare system would not handle planned capacity, necessitating installation of a new system. This delayed for a few weeks restart of the refinery.
Basically, a flare system acts as a safety relief valve. Excess gases from the refining process are combined with steam and burned, ensuring maximum combustion of hydrocarbons and minimizing emissions.
“These are flames people see at a refinery,” said Shorey.  Occasional flaring and rumbling sound at the top of the refinery’s flare stacks are a normal and vital part of keeping the refinery operating safely during unplanned operational interruptions or scheduled maintenance activities.
Continental Refining has secured a crude oil supply contract with Sunoco Partners Marketing and Terminals LP that will ensure consistent operations.
The contract with Sunoco will assure CRC between 1,500 and 4,500 barrels of oil a day. CRC continues to work with area producers of oil, some of whom claimed they were not paid by a former owner.
CRC will produce several products including 87-octane (regular) gasoline, kerosene, diesel, and No. 4 and No. 6 (residual) heating oils. At full capacity, the refinery in a year can produce 23,000,000 gallons of gasoline, 6,000,000 gallons of kerosene, 21,000,000 gallons of diesel fuel and 30,000,000 gallons of heating oils.