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Tsvetana Paraskova

Tsvetana Paraskova

Tsvetana is a writer for Oilprice.com with over a decade of experience writing for news outlets such as iNVEZZ and SeeNews. 

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Wisconsin's Only Oil Refinery Reopens 5 Years After Explosion

  • Wisconsin's only refinery is set to resume operations five years after an explosion took it offline.
  • An explosion occurred at the Superior refinery at the end of April 2018, injuring dozens of workers and forcing people to evacuate.
  • The explosion and subsequent fires cost the refinery around $550 million in damages.
Wisconsin refinery

The Superior refinery is restarting five years after a massive explosion wounded dozens at Wisconsin's only such facility, with product sales expected to begin this quarter.  

The restart will accomplish a rare task—increasing refinery capacity in the United States.

An explosion occurred at the Superior refinery at the end of April 2018, injuring dozens of workers and forcing people to evacuate. An explosion and a fire occurred at the refinery while preparations were underway for major maintenance work, and the refinery has been shut down since the incident. Husky Energy owned the refinery back in 2018 before being acquired by Cenovus Energy in 2021. The refinery, alongside the refinery in Lima, Ohio, and several joint venture refineries in the U.S. are key assets in Cenovus's downstream business, the company says.

The explosion and subsequent fires cost the refinery around $550 million in damages, AP reports.

Cenovus Energy has worked to rebuild the refinery and said in its first-quarter earnings release this week that it had achieved the safe and successful restart of the Superior Refinery.

The refinery rebuild project will result in a modernized facility with the same 50,000 barrels per day (bpd) throughput capacity and the ability to produce a full slate of products to service the region, including asphalt, gasoline, and diesel.  

Crude oil was introduced in the Superior refinery in the middle of last month. The refinery is currently running barrels in preparation for expected refined product sales in the second quarter. The Superior Refinery remains on track to ramp up to full operations through the second quarter of this year, Cenovus Energy said.

"The company has achieved major milestones with the safe startups of the Superior and Toledo refineries under way," said Jon McKenzie, who moved from his role as Cenovus's Executive Vice-President and Chief Operating Officer to President and Chief Executive Officer following the Annual Meeting of Shareholders on Wednesday.

During the first quarter, Cenovus Energy's capital investment of US$807 million (C$1.1 billion) was primarily directed towards sustaining production in the oil sands, the Superior Refinery rebuild, and refining reliability initiatives at the jointly-owned Wood River and Borger refineries.

By Tsvetana Paraskova for Oilprice.com

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