Saint John Refinery, New Brunswick, Canada

The Saint John refinery, located in Saint John city of New Brunswick province, is Canada's biggest oil refinery with a capacity to produce around 300,000 barrels of refined products per day (bopd). The refinery is owned and operated by Irving Oil and produces a wide range of products including gasoline, diesel, heating oil, jet fuel, propane and asphalt.

Over half of the energy products produced by the refinery are exported to the north-east US, while the rest are sold in wholesale and retail markets in Eastern Canada.

Recent turnaround projects at Saint John refinery

An eight week turnaround involving an investment of $20m was initiated in September 2014 to enhance the safety and reliability of the refinery. The maintenance project, estimated to take 450,000 workforce hours for completion, will involve 650 additional skilled workers including electricians, pipefitters and boilermakers to work together with the refinery's existing 1,400 person workforce.

Canaport LNG Plant, St John, New Brunswick, Canada

Canaport LNG started the construction of a state-of-the-art Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) receiving and regasification terminal in St John, New Brunswick in late 2006 (initial work, such as site clearance, was completed in May 2005).

A six-week plant turnaround involving 1,700 additional skilled workers and 1,000,000 man hours was previously taken up at the refinery in March 2014. The $60m project involved maintenance and upgrades on several units in the refinery's Central, South and East Process areas to improve safety, reliability and environmental performance. The scope of the project also included cleaning, equipment inspection, repairs, replacements and piping upgrades.

Saint John Refinery history

Saint John refinery, spread over a 780-acre site, was established by Irving Oil and Standard Oil of California (SOCAL) in 1960. The 54 year-old refinery has been upgraded a number of times in its history.

The largest upgrade at the refinery was conducted in 2000, which involved an investment of around $1.5bn. The upgrade increased the refinery's efficiency and flexibility in converting low-value heavy fuel oils to higher value transportation fuels such as gasoline and diesel, as well as enhanced environmental performance by reducing sulphur emissions from the refinery. The upgrade also increased the ability to process a wider range of light and heavy feed stocks at the refinery.

Saint John refinery further underwent a $150m upgrade in 2003, which allowed it to produce ultra-low sulphur diesel. The refinery was also the first in Canada to produce high octane gasoline without the use of lead additives, and to produce low-sulphur gasoline.

The latest upgrade at the refinery carried out in 2011 with an estimated investment of $100m reduced the levels of benzene in gasoline as per the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulations and Canadian government regulations.

Infrastructure and process details

Crude oil for the refinery arrives at Irving Canaport deep-water terminal from where it is unloaded by pumping to large storage tanks via the monobuoy.

A joint venture of Irving Oil and TransCanada has agreed to construct a new $300m deepwater marine terminal adjacent to the existing import terminal at Irving Canaport in the Saint John refinery. The engineering and design work of the new terminal is expected to begin in 2015.The crude oil for the refinery will be come through the 1,400km Energy East pipeline from Hardisty to Saint John, which is expected to be completed by 2018.

"The largest upgrade at the refinery was conducted in 2000, which involved an investment of around $1.5bn."

The distillation process at the refinery involves heating the crude oil to over 370°C. As vaporisation begins, lighter fractions such as butane, propane and gasoline rise to the top of fractionation towers while the heavier parts such as the diesel, gas oil and bunker oil are collected on trays at the bottom of the towers.

Lighter components from the towers are sent through pipes to special equipments in the refinery to remove sulphur and produce higher valued and environmental-friendly fuel products.

The heavier parts of the crude oil are pumped to other parts of the refinery such as fluid catalytic cracking unit, hydrocracker unit to convert them into components used in asphalt, marine gas oil, gasoline, diesel, jet fuel, and so on.

Other process units at the refinery include dehexaniser, alkylation, and isomerisation units.

The fuels are finally de-sulphurised before blending, and the blended products are loaded into tanker trucks, rail cars or ships.

Service partners for Saint John Refinery

Fluor provides engineering services for the refinery, whereas Jacobs offers maintenance services. Intertek and Source Atlantic offer laboratory and warehousing services respectively for the refinery.

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