Tulsa Refinery Begins Installing Giant Naphtha Splitter

Monday, June 6th 2016, 1:22 pm
By: Richard Clark

A huge piece of equipment that blocked traffic in west Tulsa during its move a month ago is being installed in its permanent home.

It's called a naphtha splitter. 

On May 7, 2016, a team moved it from Fabwell Custom Pressure Vessels in Tulsa where it was built to the HollyFrontier Tulsa Refinery.

Moving it was a huge job. The splitter is 215 long by 15 feet in diameter and weighs 600,000 pounds. The total transport configuration was 381 feet long, 18 feet wide, nearly 22 feet tall and weighed more than 860,000 pounds.

5/6/2016: Related Story: Giant Naphtha Splitter Tower To Be Moved Through Tulsa

The move went smoothly and the refinery lifted it into place on May 22, 2016.

The refinery processes about 125,000 barrels of crude oil per day. About 25,000 barrels of light naphtha is distilled from that oil. The octane of light naphtha is low, so it's difficult to use it in the gasoline blending process.

"In order to upgrade the octane, it must first be separated, or split, into a light and heavy fraction using a distillation process.  The distillation process is referred to as a Naphtha Splitter,"  said Tony Conetta, VP and refinery manager for HollyFrontier.

The splitter will allow the refinery to make higher octane gasoline blends with equipment it already has and will allow the refinery to meet Tier 3 gasoline specifications required by the government which go into effect next. year. 

It's scheduled to go into service in early 2017.