HollyFrontier updates refinery projects

At an early-September presentation to analysts, independent refiner HollyFrontier Corp., Dallas, said it is targeting a capital investment program of $325 million during 2015-18 on opportunity projects designed to expand and modernize operations at its five US refining centers.

In addition to the recently completed naphtha fractionation and hydrogen generation units, HollyFrontier is evaluating a $5-million project to debottleneck operations at the El Dorado, Kan., refinery by as much as 6,000 b/d.

The refinery’s crude unit, which could support an additional 20,000 b/d of crude to fill existing downstream units, already exceeded its processing capacity by 4,000 b/d during August without any active debottlenecking project work in progress at the time.

A project designed to address identified constraints at the unit, however, could increase its capacity by an additional 2,000 b/d by early 2016, the company said.

Specifically, the project would involve upsizing an atmospheric bottom pump between the crude and vacuum towers as well as improvements to unit piping.

Engineering evaluation also is under way to identify and resolve additional constraints at the refinery that could result in an additional 4,000-b/d debottlenecking project at the site, HollyFrontier said.

In its most recent quarterly report, the company said another ongoing project at El Dorado includes installation of a fluid catalytic cracking (FCC) gasoline hydrotreater to help the refinery meet Tier 3 gasoline requirements.

HollyFrontier also plans to continue this year with projects at El Dorado that include upgrades to the crude unit desalter as well as installation of a tail gas treatment unit to reduce air emissions in compliance with the refinery’s existing US Environmental Protection Agency consent decree.

In fourth-quarter 2014, HollyFrontier completed an FCC liquid-yield improvement project at El Dorado, which raised incremental liquid-product yields at the unit by 1,000 b/d, according to a Sept. 3 presentation to analysts.

The project, which cost about $9 million, included installation of feed nozzle technology as well as a riser termination device.

A $55-million project to improve coker yields at El Dorado also is under consideration, HollyFrontier said.

Sill in its early stages, the project, if approved, would be completed in 2018.

Tulsa refineries

At its Tulsa refineries, which consist of the combined 125,000-b/d Tulsa West and Tulsa East production sites, HollyFrontier is proceeding with a $36-million project to modernize FCC operations.

The FCC revamp, which aims to boost capacity at the unit by as much as 4,000 b/d as well as improve conversion rates and yield by 1%, will involve upgrades to the FCC’s feed nozzles, catalyst stripper, and riser termination device, the company told investors.

The Tulsa FCC project is due to be completed during spring 2016.

Plans also are under way to address Tier 3 compliance at the Tulsa refineries with a project designed to expand naphtha splitting capabilities.

Scheduled for late-2016 completion, the naphtha splitter will improve performance of isomerization catalyst by removing C7s from the feed, which in turn will raise octane by 4 numbers, the company told analysts on Sept. 3.

HollyFrontier said it expects improved octane levels to enable the Tulsa refineries to upgrade 2,000 b/d of light, straight-run naphtha to gasoline.

At an estimated cost of $30 million, the project is due to be completed in late 2016.

The company said it also has wrapped a $1 million project to debottleneck propane deasphalting (PDA) operations at the Tulsa refineries.

The project, which entailed installation of additional cooling to the PDA unit’s propane recovery section and the replacement of a motor on an asphalt pump, has boosted PDA capacity by 1,000 b/d.

Navajo refinery

In addition to an ongoing $25-million upgrade to the waste water system at the Navajo refinery—which consists of production sites in Artesia, NM, and Lovington, NM—HollyFrontier said it is considering a $35-million project to fix ancillary fractionators that would result in 4,000-b/d debottlenecks at both the crude and distillate hydrotreating units.

The project, which would be completed in 2017, would entail the following components:

• Optimize feed tray location of naphtha hydrotreating fractionators to eliminate 2,000-3,000 b/d recycle to the crude unit.

• Add a recycle compressor and heat exchange to improve reliability, run length, and reduce energy costs of the naphtha hydrotreating unit.

• Optimize kerosine and distillate fractionators to eliminate 1,000-2,000 b/d recycle to the crude unit.

• Add a heat exchange and charge pump to the distillate hydrotreater, which would increase the unit’s capacity up to 4,000 b/d, reduce energy costs, and improve the quality of diesel production.

An already completed $15-million project to debottleneck Navajo has raised the refinery’s crude processing capacity to 105,000 b/d from a former 80,000 b/d capacity, the company said.

Cheyenne refinery

At its 52,000-b/sd refinery in Cheyenne, Wyo., HollyFrontier said installation of a 10-MMscfd hydrogen plant to replace the refinery’s inefficient 4-MMscfd existing plant remains on schedule for completion during this year’s fourth quarter.

The $34-million hydrogen plant project, along with a recently completed naphtha fractionation project, is designed to help reduce benzene content in gasoline production while simultaneously improve overall liquid yields and light oils production at the refinery, according to the company’s latest quarterly report.

Additional projects still under way at Cheyenne include wastewater treatment plant improvements, a flue-gas scrubber for the FCC to reduce air emissions, and a redundant tail-gas unit associated with the sulfur recovery process, the company said.

HollyFrontier also is considering an $8.6-million FCC liquid-yield improvement project at Cheyenne, which the company said it expects to complete in spring 2016.

Woods Cross refinery

Engineering and construction continues on Phase 1 of a $400-million expansion project at the company’s 31,000-b/sd refinery in Woods Cross, Utah (OGJ Online, Nov. 19, 2013; Jan. 4, 2012).

Phase 1 work, which will increase processing capacity to 45,000 b/sd, includes the relocation-revamp of an FCC and polymerization units from Western Refining Inc.’s shuttered refinery in Bloomfield, NM (OGJ Online, Nov. 10, 2009) as well as a rail-loading rack for intermediates and finished products associated with refining waxy crude oil.

Once completed, expanded processing units at the refinery will have the following capacities:

• Crude distillation: 45,000 b/sd.

• FCC: 18,000 b/sd.

• Alkylation-polymerization: 6,000 b/sd.

• Gas oil hydrocracking: 15,000 b/sd.

• Distillate hydrotreating: 10,000 b/sd.

Scheduled for mechanical completion in this year’s fourth quarter, Phase 1 of the expansion is due for start-up by yearend, HollyFrontier said.

The company also is investing an additional $20-30 million at Woods Cross to expand the refinery’s flexibility to process a wider slate of crudes. The crude flexibility project scheduled to be completed during first-quarter 2016.

A potential Phase 2 expansion at Woods Cross, which would expand capacity to 60,000 b/sd by 2018 at an estimated cost of $750 million-1 billion, would involve increases to both crude and vacuum distillation capacities as well as installation of a hydro-isom unit, a hydrogen plant, and a distillate hydrotreater, the company said in a presentation to investors earlier in the year.

Contact Robert Brelsford at rbrelsford@ogjonline.com.

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