“Really soon ... within the next few weeks.” That’s the day-after-Christmas projection on restart of the former Somerset Refinery.
“We’re in the final stages of the checklist. We’re reviewing all equipment and safety procedures. We are being very thorough,” said Missy Shorey, spokesperson for Continental Refining Company, current owner of the landmark oil refinery off Monticello Street.
“We’re in the final steps of the review,” Shorey reiterated. “(Restart) of the refinery should be soon. I don’t have an exact date ... to give an exact date would be premature.”
Continental Refining Company continues to hire employees. “We have 34 on the payroll now,” Shorey said this week. 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 industry and its value to this area.
Somerset Refinery, until it closed nearly three years ago, was one of only two refineries in the state. Marathon Petroleum Corporation operates the other facility, at Catlettsburg.
Somerset Refinery started operations in the 1930s. It provided an important market for small crude oil producers in nearby areas of Kentucky and Tennessee, and its affiliated Somerset Oil stations were once familiar sights in the region.
The refinery in 2006 ran into financial trouble because the price of crude oil went up significantly, owners said later in a court document.
Suppliers sued, claiming the refinery had failed to pay for millions of dollars worth of crude oil. The refinery went through several owners; through allegedly broken promises; through bankruptcy; and through property auctions and was finally shut down in February 2010.
The refinery was purchased a year ago by Continental Refining Company (CRC), and the Somerset-based corporation is in the process of restarting the refinery.