North Pole refinery to undergo inspection and maintenance

Shutdown of about one-third of the refinery slated for May 11-27

Posted: Monday, March 31, 2003

FAIRBANKS - The Williams Alaska North Pole refinery will undergo a two-week shut down in May for a regular inspection and maintenance that could mean up to $2 million for Alaska contractors.

The shutdown of about one-third of the refinery is between May 11-27. Each of the refinery's three crude units is inspected at least every five years.

Gasoline production accounts for less than 10 percent of the refinery's output of roughly 65,000 to 70,000 barrels a day, but production of other fuels at the refinery also will be curtailed, officials said.

The company will store reserve gasoline and can always buy from Tesoro as a fallback plan, so the shutdown isn't expected to affect gas supplies, said Jeff Cook, Williams Alaska vice president of external affairs.

"We're going to try and fill as much of our storage in Fairbanks and Anchorage as we can," Cook said. "Customers are not going to be at risk at all."

The $6 million project will focus on one of the refinery's crude units that is in need of scheduled maintenance.

Some of the work will be performed by local contractors, but an Outside company that specializes in turnarounds, AltairStrickland West Inc., will handle or contract out some tasks.

About $750,000 of the budget will be spent in an effort to meet state and federal environmental health and safety regulations.

The project requires dismantling refinery equipment and special attention is paid to preventing leaks or accidents when the facility goes back online, said Bill Stubblebin, project manager for AltairStrickland.

An estimated 35 percent of the work force will be from Alaska, with an estimated economic impact of up to $2 million for local and in-state contractors, Stubblebin said.

"We are trying very hard to keep the revenues from the shutdown with good Alaska companies," he said.

Roughly $500,000 is expected to circulate to local businesses in support of the overall work force, Paul said.

AltairStrickland plans to bring 70 to 80 workers to the Interior for the project.



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