Newcastle skyline is soon to change

By: 
Alexis Barker

Photo by Walter Sprague/NLJ

The Wyoming Refining Company brought in a 1.7 million-pound crane along with six other smaller cranes, to help complete the removal and replacement of several key pieces of the facility during the approximately 45 day shutdown that began just over a week ago at the facility. 

 

Alexis Barker

NLJ News Editor

 

Newcastle’s tallest structure is soon to be about half its size, according to Mike Farnsworth, vice president of Wyoming Refining Co. Par Pacific in Newcastle. Turnaround at the facility has officially begun, and anyone who has cruised down Main Street and past the refinery has seen an influx of vehicles, increased activity and a 1.7-million-pound crane. 

Beginning on Sept. 14, the refinery stopped all production for approximately 45 days while over 300 contractors, as well as the facility’s 150 employees, move in and out of every location on the property. This major shutdown, Farnsworth said, happens every five years and involves major maintenance. 

“We go through every single tower and exchanger. We replace nozzles and trays. We go through every piece of equipment here during shutdown,” Farnsworth said.  

What separates this shutdown from all the rest is the dramatic change to the Newcastle skyline that will be evident as the project continues, he said. 

According to Farnsworth, the tallest tower at the refinery will be considerably shorter by the end of the shutdown. 

“That icon of the refinery, the old TCC structure, the tallest structure … we shut it down in 2000 and now we are going to take the top half off of it and take it out. It is not going to be so tall anymore,” Farnsworth said. “It won’t look as cool, in my mind, but we don’t utilize it anymore, and with the annual inspections and requirements, it is not worth it.” 

Tim Lorenz, who works across the street from the refinery at Dunham’s Repair, said that while the tower is a “landmark,” he calls the dismemberment of the no-longer-functional tower and the other upgrades being done at the facility a win. 

In addition to the tower, other changes will be taking place. By the end of the 45-day shutdown, a total of 800,000 pounds of scrap metal would be removed from the site and taken to a regional recycling facility, Farnsworth said. 

“We are going to be demoing a lot of stuff — numerous heaters, vessels, towers, exchangers,” Farnsworth said. 

“I think it’s great that the refinery is taking on so many upgrades. I hope it surely means jobs for Newcastle for years to come, in a safer, more efficient workplace,” Lorenz said, “I’d call that a win.” 

Seven cranes will be on-site to aid in the demolition of the structures. The most impressive, Farnsworth said, made its trip to Newcastle in 63 different truckloads. The crane, most recently used in the construction of a new football stadium in Los Angeles, weighs 1.7 million pounds and has a 400-foot boom. 

The crane, Farnsworth said, makes this shutdown look like one of the biggest at the facility in recent history, although the 2015 shutdown consisted of more upgrades. 

“We are still doing upgrades. There is a lot of preventive maintenance going on — a significant amount of capital projects,” Farnsworth said, noting that the work is expected to be completed the end of October.

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