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Continental Refining crude oil Somerset refinery now fully operational

Continental Refining Company (US Refinery 5113) announced Feb. 4 the completion of the turnaround and startup of its crude oil motor fuels refinery in Somerset, Kentucky. Following a thorough overhaul in 2012, the 80-year-old plant is now processing crude oil and producing high-quality finished fuel products.

Today, US Refinery 5113 is fully operational after being idle for three years. This startup brings an energy asset back online in a mountainous area where there is not another crude oil refinery within 170 miles. The Somerset refinery receives an ample supply for crude oil refining through its contracts with Sunoco Partners Marketing & Terminals LP and with Regal Fuels.

Key plant updates included a completely new flare system and various other improvements to ensure the safe and consistent production of high-value products. The replacement value of the facility is in excess of $70 million, with $10 million slated for increased throughput and conversion projects for the next two years and up to $60 million earmarked to be spent on upgrades over the next five years.

“The credit for this turnaround goes 100 percent to the employees, suppliers, and supporters of Continental Refining Company,” said Demetrios Haseotes, the company’s CEO and president, who led the overhaul of the plant and brought on a new management team that is connected to the region.  

Within six months, the plant is expected to be running at full capacity of 5,500 bpd. Priorities for the next six months include increasing efficiency and conversion by reducing bottlenecks, expanding crude oil supply from regional producers, and hiring more employees to support expanding capacity.

In preparation for regulatory compliance, Continental Refining Company plans to design and install a benzene stripping operation by 2015, while also evaluating an additional hydrotreater and hydrocracker. It also plans to upgrade the facility to run heavier feedstocks and to achieve a 90 percent high-value finished product conversion by further processing of the entire barrel. Additionally, the company intends to leverage its primary refining assets to find a partner for additional natural gas liquids (NGL) processing.

Located on 93 acres, the Somerset refinery is adjacent to intermodal rail and is close to barge facilities for rapid shipping. It also has a trucking fleet for gathering. With the first crude oil being processed at the site in three years, the refinery has added 34 jobs in Somerset, with an estimated 200 indirect jobs to be created in the region.

Haseotes summarized that Continental Refining Company is now “ready to meet its future” and that the company’s Feb. 4 announcement “marks an important new starting point for this Midwest asset, and signals the national potential for reinvigorating our energy assets, boosting domestic energy independence, and, most importantly, creating American jobs.”

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