Carlile hauls Tesoro reactor through town

Heavy lifting

Posted: Friday, December 15, 2006


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  One of three truck drivers pushing the unit rides the bumper of the truck in front of him locomotive-style as the rig passes through Kenai. Photo by M. Scott Moon

Drivers from Carlile Transportation Systems pull — and push — a 71-foot-long refinery reactor up the Kenai Spur Highway in Kenai on Thursday morning. The 110-ton piece of equipment was delivered to Tesoros Nikiski refinery from Anchorage, where it will help the refinery produce cleaner diesel fuel.

Photo by M. Scott Moon

Making the trip between Anchorage and Kenai in winter can be challenge enough with all the ups and downs through Turnagain Pass and sharp curves through Cooper Landing.

Imagine doing it while pulling a 110-ton, 71-foot-long refinery reactor vessel.

That was just one of the tasks faced by Carlile Transportation, the firm hired to bring several huge pieces of equipment to the Tesoro refinery in North Kenai for its new ultra-low sulfur diesel fuel processing unit.

Besides the reactor, the unit requires a 65-ton, 126-foot fractionating tower and some large modules and other pieces of equipment.

“We had to use a dolly configuration manufactured by Aspen Custom Trailers (for the tower), and the largest capacity low-boy (trailer) allowed by the state (for the reactor),” said Gene Carlson, vice president of special projects for Carlile.

The reactor made the trip through Soldotna and Kenai on Thursday and the tower came through Nov. 30, according to Carlson.

Due to the weight of the reactor, he said, three push trucks were used behind the load and one tractor was pulling from in front.

“That (gave) us good traction to get up the hills,” he said.

Tesoro refining Vice President Steve Hansen said some of the equipment was manufactured in Washington and some in the Gulf Coast states.

After being transported to Washington by rail, the equipment made its way to Alaska by barge before being trucked to North Kenai.

Once installed, the new ultra-low-sulfur unit will be capable of producing 10,000 barrels of diesel fuel a day, Hansen said.

He said it does not increase the amount of refining capacity for the Tesoro plant, but makes the company’s diesel fuel product compliant with new state environmental regulations, which are to go into effect June 1. The goal is to have the new unit on line by May.


One of three truck drivers pushing the unit rides the bumper of the truck in front of him locomotive-style as the rig passes through Kenai.

Photo by M. Scott Moon

The low-sulfur diesel will be required for all on-road and non-road locomotive and marine diesel applications, Hansen said.

The company did not encounter any problems other than the logistics of transporting from rail to barge to truck, he said.

Carlson said the low-boy trailer put 90 wheels under the heavy reactor and made the overall length of the truck 214 feet.

“We worked with the state (Department of Transportation and Public Facilities) bridge design and weights and measures people to get bridge approval for travel,” Carlson said.

The reactor journey from Anchorage was put off one day while DOT studied the design capacity of one of the bridges, he said, but everything went as planned Wednesday night and Thursday morning.

Carlson said the reactor was to leave Potter Marsh outside Anchorage at 10 p.m. Wednesday and travel at 20 to 25 miles per hour, reaching the central Kenai Peninsula by midmorning Thursday.

Although unusual, the load was not a first for Carlile.

Carlson said the company has transported a similar tower all the way from Valdez to Prudhoe Bay.

Phil Hermanek can be reached at phillip.hermanek

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