CHS commissions coker at Kansas refinery

US farmer-owned cooperative CHS Inc., Inver Grove Heights, Minn., has commissioned a delayed coking unit to replace a more than 60-year-old unit at its 85,000-b/d McPherson refinery in central Kansas.

A project planned and initially started by former refinery operator National Cooperative Refinery Association (NCRA) in March 2013 (OGJ Online, Mar. 12, 2013), the coker became operable on Feb. 5, CHS said on Feb. 17.

CHS did not disclose details regarding the unit’s capacity, but the coker—which replaces an 18,800-b/sd (16,920-b/cd) unit built in 1952—was to have a capacity of 25,000 b/sd (22,500 b/cd) beginning in 2016, according to US Energy Information Administration statistics.

Startup of the coking unit will enable the McPherson refinery to cut costs while meeting increased product demand by enabling greater flexibility to process a wider slate of less expensive, heavier crudes into more valuable finished products such as gasoline and diesel, as well as petroleum coke for industrial applications, the company said.

Safety features of the unit include a fully automated decoking control system that will allow operators, from a protected area away from the coker, to drill out and remove coke from unit drums, CHS said.

Originally planned as an investment of $555 million, the McPherson multiyear coker replacement project likely will have a final cost of $579 million, CHS told investors in its annual report for fiscal year 2015.

A $330-million project designed to boost crude processing capacity at the McPherson refinery to 100,000 b/d (OGJ Online, Sept. 2, 2015) also remains on schedule to be completed this year, the company said.

Contact Robert Brelsford at rbrelsford@ogjonline.com.

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