Irving Oil Refinery Begins $50 Million Turnaround

Publication date

Maintenance project will create work for 700 tradespeople

SAINT JOHN, NB — Over the next 12 weeks, 700 additional workers will perform scheduled maintenance on several processing units at the Saint John refinery. Work will be underway 24 hours a day, seven days a week, until the project is completed. 

Known in the refining industry as a “turnaround”, the project represents a $50 million investment. The work will involve maintenance and upgrading work on several units in the refinery’s North and South Process areas.  
In total, around 1,000 people will be directly involved with the turnaround, including 700 additional tradespeople in positions ranging from pipefitters to boilermakers. The experience and expertise of these workers are reasons why the refinery can successfully execute projects of this scope. The majority of these trades people are from New Brunswick.   
Most of the work will focus on the refinery’s Butamer and Alkylation Units. The Butamer Unit converts butane to alkylation plant feedstock. The Alkylation Units refine less useable oil products into high octane blending material, called Aklylate, which is the key ingredient in premium gasoline. The turnaround will also include other maintenance.
“This investment will ensure our refinery continues to operate safely, reliably and cleanly,” says Mark Sherman, General Manager of the Irving Oil Refinery.  “Turnarounds are critical to maintaining the reliability of our refinery’s units, but they’re also important to the broader community through the jobs and spin-offs they bring.”
The refinery’s strong safety culture will be maintained throughout the project, as turnaround crew members will participate in extensive safety training orientation sessions prior to beginning work. As well, daily safety audits will be conducted and additional safety specialists will be on-site for the duration of the turnaround.  

Turnaround Fast Facts

  • Work on the turnaround will take place around the clock for 12 weeks and is expected to be complete by end of November. In total, the project will represent 350,000 workforce hours.
  • The $50 million turnaround will include work to the refinery’s Butamer Unit, Alkylation Units #1 & #2 and the Sulphuric Acid Regeneration Unit. All units are located within the North and South Process Areas of the refinery.
  • In total, around 1,000 people will be directly involved with the turnaround, including additional electricians, pipefitters, boilermakers, instrument technicians, labourers, insulators, millwrights, carpenters, bricklayers, iron workers, surveyors and operating engineers.
  • The Irving Oil Refinery will continue to meet the needs of its customers throughout the course of the project.

About Irving Oil

Irving Oil was founded in 1924 and is a privately owned regional refining and marketing company with a history of long-term partnerships and relationships. Irving Oil operates Canada’s largest refinery, in Saint John NB, which is located 65 miles north of the US border and has reached production rates in excess of 300,000 barrels per day. The refinery exports over 80 per cent of its production to the US and accounts for 75 per cent of Canada’s gasoline exports to the US and 19 per cent of all US gasoline imports. In 2003, Irving Oil became the first oil company to receive a US Environmental Protection Agency Clean Air Excellence Award, for its clean gasoline. For more information about Irving Oil, visit

Media contact:

Sam Robinson
Irving Oil
[email protected]