Irving Oil invests $20 million in refinery maintenance project

Project will create work for 800 tradespeople

SAINT JOHN, NB - Over the next four weeks, 800 additional workers will perform scheduled maintenance on several major processing units at the Saint John Refinery. Work will be underway 24 hours a day, seven days a week, until the project is completed.

Known in the refining industry as a "turnaround," the project represents a $20 million investment. The work will involve maintenance and upgrading work on several units in the refinery's Central and South Process Areas.

The additional 800 people joining the refinery's 1,500-person workforce will be primarily tradespeople in positions ranging from electricians to ironworkers to carpenters. Most workers are from Atlantic Canada, while some come from as far away as British Columbia.

"This investment will ensure our refinery continues to operate reliably, safely and cleanly," said Mark Sherman, Refinery General Manager. "Refinery turnarounds are similar to many of the most labour-intensive capital projects in the world, in that they generate tremendous benefit to the surrounding community through the jobs and spin-offs they bring to the region."

The turnaround investment comes just months after the completion of a new $70-million tail gas unit, which has reduced the refinery's sulphur dioxide by an additional 25 per cent, making it one of the lowest emitters of sulphur dioxide on a per barrel basis in Canada.

The refinery's strong safety culture will be maintained throughout the project, as turnaround crew members will participate in extensive safety training orientation sessions prior to beginning work at the refinery. As well, daily safety audits will be conducted and additional safety specialists will be onsite for the duration of the turnaround.

Fall Turnaround Background Information

The following outlines the units that will be involved in the maintenance work during the turnaround:

#3 Crude Unit - The Refinery's #3 Crude Unit will undergo a unit turnaround including cleaning, equipment inspection, repairs, and piping upgrades.  The #3 Crude Unit fractionates/breaks down crude oil into its components of LPG, naphtha, jet fuel, diesel, and heavier products like bunker fuel and asphalt.

#2 Rheniformer - The #2 Rheniformer increases the octane number of its naphtha feed stock into a high octane gasoline blend component.  This unit will undergo equipment inspection, repairs and piping upgrades.

Diesel Hydrotreater - The Diesel Hydrotreater will undergo replacement of its fin fan coolers. This unit removes nitrogen and sulphur from its distillate feeds to produce ultra low sulphur diesel fuel.

Sulphur Plant - The Sulphur Plant will be shutdown to replace tubes in its reaction furnace.  The Sulphur Plant converts sulphur compounds produced in the refining process into liquid sulphur for sales.  A second sulphur plant will remain online so as to not increase our sulphur dioxide emissions during the shutdown period.

About Irving Oil

Founded in 1924, Irving Oil is a privately owned regional refining and marketing company with a history of long-term partnerships and relationships. Irving Oil operates Canada's largest refinery, in Saint John, N.B., which is located 65 miles north of the U.S border and has reached production rates in excess of 300,000 barrels per day. The refinery exports more than 80 per cent of its production to the U.S., and accounts for 75 per cent of Canada's gasoline exports to the U.S. and 19 per cent of all US gasoline imports. In 2003, Irving Oil became the first oil company to receive a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Clean Air Excellence Award, for its clean gasoline.

For more information about Irving Oil, visit

Media contact:  Sam Robinson - Irving Oil (506) 202-2656