“These guys don’t really lose anything to the weather,” Mick Heim, project manager for Motiva Enterprises LLC, the refinery’s parent company, said Tuesday while sitting inside one of Cianbro’s construction trailers at the South Brewer site. “The weather is taking pieces of my face off, and they’re happy as can be.”
Cianbro Corp., a Pittsfield construction company, is in the process of changing the 41-acre defunct mill on South Main Street into a modular manufacturing facility that will employ 500 or more skilled workers starting in March or April.
The partnership that owns the Motiva Port Arthur Refinery announced in October that the Texas plant is expanding and will be the largest crude oil processing plant in North America. Cianbro was awarded a 15-month contract that month to build up to 70 building modules — or prefabricated, self-standing building skeletons — for the estimated $7 billion Texas expansion project.
“We’re going to make enough gas to fill 700,000 cars a day when we’re up and running,” Heim said. “We’re going to more than double the size of the refinery.”
The expansion is expected to be completed in 2010.
Heim, who has interviewed Cianbro administrators and employees, and a five-person inspection team from Shell Oil are in town to see how the Brewer project is progressing.
“Everything is going really good so far,” he said. “They have done so much since I was [last] up here. The progress they are making here is great.”
Maine is well known for its cold weather, and Cianbro officials did have to convince the oil company officials that the project could be completed in a frigid climate.
“For someone like me, it takes a little bit of convincing,” Heim said. “These [Cianbro] guys don’t stop when it gets cold. And their work ethic continues to reinforce that we made the right decision picking these guys and this area.”
On Tuesday, the Southern native was wearing a turtleneck, a long-sleeved shirt, a lined flannel shirt and a thick hunting jacket, long johns, lined pants and insulated Carhart coveralls, and three pairs of socks. He also had two hats and two pairs of gloves.
“I can barely move, but I’m warm,” Heim said.
Cianbro crews have basically removed all the old mill buildings from the Brewer site, and will soon construct the slab that the modules will be constructed on. The underground utilities are in place and work on the bulkhead is about halfway complete. And supplies for the building modules already are being delivered to Brewer.
“Pipe came in Monday and a shipment of steel just left China,” Heim said. “It will probably be here in the middle of March. These guys will start construction probably in the middle of March, early April.”
Once the building modules are constructed, prewired and all the utilities and piping are in place, they will be shipped out by barge to Texas and will be put together on site.
“The first one sails probably Oct. 1,” Heim said. “They can put between four and six of these modules on the barges at one time.”
The trip to and from Texas takes approximately 28 days, he said.
Member of the inspection team, who are all based in much warmer climates, arrived in town on Monday and are leaving Friday, but not before having a little wintertime fun, Heim said.
“We’re going Hermon Mountain tubing” on Wednesday, he said. “I have no idea what that means, but I’m going. I’ve never done any winter sports at all.”
A copyright story from the Bangor Daily News, Wednesday, January 23, 2008.