L-169 installs twin 550-ton coker drums

Photo by Terry Sullivan
The second of two coker drums at the Marathon Oil Refinery in southwest Detroit is lowered into place.

Upgrade will increase petroleum refinery’s capabilities by 13,000 barrels a day

MEMBERS OF DETROIT Local 169 installed a pair of mammoth “coker drums” as part of the Marathon Petroleum Co.’s $2.2 billion Heavy Oil Upgrade Project (HUOP) at the firm’s 100,000-barrels-per-day Detroit refinery.

The 120-ft.-long drums — built in Spain, then floated across the Atlantic Ocean through the St. Lawrence Seaway to southwest Detroit — weighed over one million pounds each. Upon arrival at docks on the Rouge River, the drums were offloaded from barges onto multiple-axle flatbed trailers made by Goldhofer that can turn in any direction and be used on uneven terrain.

Local 169 members used the Goldhofers to transfer the drums more than a half mile to the Marathon site, then lowered the massive drums into place.

Terry Sullivan, working for Mammoet USA Inc., part of a Dutch company that specializes in hoisting and transporting heavy objects, served as the Local 169 general foreman for this project.

“There was a lot of pre-planning; we went over everything,” Sullivan said. “We set one on Saturday, the other on the next Monday. We couldn’t have done it without a great crew. We definitely had the right guys for the right job.”

Crew members included Local 169 members Mike Dodson, Lew Harris, Jared Hurley, David Knaf, Andrew Lawson, Rick Masty, Chris Patrick, Jamie Ratliff, Mike Robinson, Bob Rose, and Nick Simmons.

According to Marathon, the new hardware is part of their “delayed coker” processing system at the plant, which will convert asphalt-like material into liquid petroleum fuel blend components and petroleum coke (a coal-like substance). It also will allow the refinery to thermally convert and upgrade heavy Canadian crude oil into higher quality products such as gasoline, diesel, and petroleum coke.

The upgrades on Michigan’s only petroleum refinery will increase the facility’s processing capability by 13,000 barrels per day.

It was the first job that Local 169 members had to utilize TWICs to gain access to a job site. A TWIC — Transportation Employee Identification Credential — allows unescorted access to secure areas of MTSA-regulated facilities. MTSA is an acronym for Maritime Transportation Security Act, a 2002 law passed following the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. MTSA-regulated facilities include ports and industrial plants that interface with ports, such as refineries and power plants.

The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) and the U.S. Coast Guard are responsible for rolling out the TWIC program; the Department of Homeland Security has overall responsibility for the program.

Boilermakers who plan to work refinery and power plant outages across the country should check with their local lodges to see if they are required to obtain a TWIC card — a tamper-resistant, “Smart Card” containing fingerprint and other personal information. The TWIC program was set up in stages across the country, beginning in October 2008 on the Northeast coast. All U.S. areas were to be in compliance by April 2009.

Contributing source: Marty Mulcahy, The Building Tradesman