By BILL MARDIS, Editor Emeritus Commonwealth Journal
It’s official. One of Somerset’s oldest businesses has been revived. Continental Refining Company (CRC), formerly Somerset Refinery, is in production.
Demetrios Haseotes, owner of the refinery, told the Commonwealth Journal Thursday that start-up of the refinery actually began about a month ago after receiving crude oil for about three months.
“This is the first official announcement,” said Haseotes. He asked that local publication of the announcement be Sunday (February 3). A national announcement will be made Monday, February 4.
The refinery is operating at 35-40 percent capacity now and should be at full capacity in six months, Haseotes explained. Start-up was without unusual problems, he noted. “There are bumps in every road especially when you have something that has been closed for almost three years.”
“This has brought a legend back to life,” said Missy Shorey, president and CEO of CRC. “It has revived an 80-year-old company and given jobs to 34 families in the community and well as new business for vendors.”
Haseotes said about 12 former Somerset Refinery employees are among the start-up work force.
“The employees and contractors have done excellent work,” said Haseotes. “It has astounded me how well they did with a little bit of experience and education you can provide before.”
“They get all the credit,” said Shorey.
CRC is one of only two refineries in the state. Marathon Petroleum Company operates the other refinery at Catlettsburg.
Beginning during the 1930s, Somerset Refinery provided an important market for crude oil producers in nearby areas of Kentucky and Tennesee. Its affiliated Somerset Oil service stations were once familiar sights in the region.
The refinery in 2006 experienced financial troubles because the price of crude oil went up significantly, owners said in a court document.
Suppliers sued, claiming the refinery failed to pay for millions of dollars worth of crude oil. The business went through several owners; through allegedly broken promises; through bankruptcy; and through property auctions. It shut down in February 2010.
Continental Refining Company (CRC) purchased the refinery a little more than a year ago. It has secured a contract with Sonoco Partners Marketing and Terminals, LP, that will assure a consistent supply of crude oil.
Haseotes said CRC is attracting local producers.
“Everyday we are picking up local crude and adding more,” he assured.
CRC produces 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 million gallons of gasoline, 6 million gallons of kerosene, 21 million gallons of diesel fuel and 30 million gallons of heating oils.
Shorey listed the following regional vendors and others supporting CRC and its operation: Boswell Crane, C&I Engineering, Citizens National Bank, Dal-R’s, ETA Engineering, Huntington Testing, Industrial Psychologists, Modern Security, R&S Electric, Congressman Hal Rogers and staff, Precision Services, Pritchard Electric, Southern Kentucky Economic Development, Sunoco Partners Marketing & Terminals, LP, and Tri-America.