Helping a Big Refinery Manage A Major Turnaround

Refineries are only profitable when they’re producing. So when it comes time for a turnaround, where production is paused for revamping or renewal projects, a lot of time, effort, and attention are poured into ensuring the work is done quickly and safely. It also requires everyone, from refinery employees to the numerous vendors, to be coordinated and deliver to the highest standards. As the saying goes, the whole operation is only as strong as the weakest link.


Delek purchased the 230-person, Big Spring refinery in 2017. Originally constructed in 1929, the facility produces transportation fuels, solvents, finished asphalt, and liquid propane gas with a crude oil throughput capacity of 73,000 barrels per day. In the first quarter of 2020, Big Spring underwent a scheduled, full-plant turnaround so that it could be ready for market demand fluctuations. As with any operation of this size, the project had the full attention of Delek’s senior executives, customers, partners, vendors, market analysts, and trade news. The pressure was on. 


As the turnaround work progressed, a weak link began to emerge. Portable restrooms and handwashing stations requirements for the over 3,000 people on site were not keeping up with the fast pace of the work and the changing traffic flow. The dire situation soon put the company at a critical decision point between two difficult paths. They could try to wrangle the current situation into a workable outcome or find a new direction.


Delek decided they needed a new direction and chose to partner with SMM. The SMM team stepped right in and assessed the troubled situation. The team then laid out a complete plan to get the refinery’s portable restroom and handwashing addressed as soon as possible, while also incorporating the future people flow patterns as the turnaround project progressed. The plan also anticipated the unpredictable challenges that would inevitably pop-up on a project of this scale and complexity. Most of all, the SMM team made sure that all plans had safety as their top priority. With the previous weak link of the project now running smoothly through SMM’s work, the turnaround was able to move forward sanitarily, efficiently, and safely. 

“The way you came in and inherited the mess we had created and organized our chaos. The attention to detail and conformity to the refinery environment with the 3000+ extra people we had on site. You handled every curve ball we through at you and did it in a safe manner without incident. You will be our sole provider throughout the normal work flow as well as the Turnarounds that we have.” – Gene Piercefield, Delek US Big Spring Refinery VPP Coordinator/Safety Liaison Officer

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