IMPERIAL OIL REVIEW Winter 1945 pages 28 to 31
courtesy of Glenbow Archives, Calgary

SHUTTLE SERVICE
A cargo of oil being loaded at Halifax Refinery of Imperial Oil. Shuttle service took 16 billion barrels of oil to Great Britain.
A cargo of oil being loaded at Halifax Refinery of Imperial Oil. Shuttle service took 16 billion barrels of oil to Great Britain.

ONE OF THE CLOSELY-GUARDED WAR SECRETS WHICH MAY NOW BE REVEALED IS THE "SHUTTLE SERVICE" OF OIL SUPPLIES FOR GREAT BRITAIN THROUGH A 700,000 BARREL STORAGE PLANT BUILT AND OPERATED FOR THE BRITISH PETROLEUM BOARD BY IMPERIAL OIL LIMITED. THE COMPANY SET UP A NEW DEPARTMENT FOR THE WORK KNOWN AS "PETROLEUM FOREIGN TRANS-SHIPMENTS."

THIS service, although a separate unit, carried on quietly throughout four war years in the midst of the operation of the company’s Halifax Refinery. Only a handful of persons in the port knew that in addition to the normal work of the refinery P.F.T.S. was contributing from the same site an immense flow of oil to Britain’s war machine.

In all 16,486,172 barrels of petroleum products were received, stored, and tran-shipped to the United Kingdom or, in the case of a small amount, used for emergency fueling of warships. To discharge or load fuel for the shuttle service 477 tankers entered Halifax harbor.

In the tanker shipping crisis of 1942 the shuttle service was an invaluable reserve, but the full weight of its effort came when the Allies were girding their supply bases for the invasion of Europe, and in the months following when the extravagant demands of war called for more and more fuel. Almost 6,000,000 barrels were trans-shipped in 1944.

Under wartime urgency almost incredible tasks were performed to make the shuttle service possible. Concrete tanks, for instance, are not practical in the Nova Scotian climate; if for some unusual reason they were built in normal times, it certainly would not be in Winter when concrete would freeze before setting. But a shortage of steel plate forced the building of concrete tanks, and in Winter. Under giant tarpaulin "warming ovens" three 100,000 barrel tanks, 130 feet in diameter and 42 feet high, were erected.

Under the driving necessity of war, too, there disappeared one of Canada’s oldest military landmarks, Fort Clarence, famed as the old eastern battery of Halifax Harbor, said to be so impregnable in olden days that its mere presence protected the city from attack.

The Shuttle, as it was popularly known, arose out of an almost desperate shipping situation. At the time it started United States was neutral, and her ships did not haul oil to Great Britain. Submarines were beginning to show what they could do to Allied supply lines. The haul from the United Kingdom to southern oil ports such as Aruba, the Dutch West Indies island off the coast of Venezuela, was long and dangerous. The outlook was black; in fact, the failure of this thinning stream of oil might mean victory for Germany.
It became apparent that the strain upon existing facilities at the refinery was too great, and the British Petroleum Board decided to spend a large sum of money to build seven 100,000 barrel steel tanks, together with additional dock space, pump houses, lines and all the auxiliary equipment necessary to operate the shuttle service without interference to the wartime work of the refinery.

All of this equipment makes an imposing list. Eventually two wooden docks were built; five miles of 16-inch pipeline were laid, and many more miles of smaller lines—two, six, eight, ten and twelve-inch lines; two pump houses and two foam houses, with powerful modern equipment, were added; miles upon miles of steam, water, foam, air and sewage lines were installed; telephone and electric systems were included along with all the other auxiliary equipment for a complete unit. All of the above were tied in with the existing refinery systems for efficient operation.


Operating the valves to release a cargo of oil for shuttle service. Nearly 17 million barrels of petroleum were shipped.
Operating the valves to release a cargo of oil for shuttle service. Nearly 17 million barrels of petroleum were shipped.

It was fortunate indeed that in 1927 Imperial Oil Limited had acquired, for addition to its refinery property, the adjacent 34-acre site of old Fort Clarence. It was the logical place for the erection of additional tanks.

Few construction jobs have been more interesting than the levelling of old Fort Clarence. It was a vast, rambling, old-fashioned fortress, first built in 1754, and rebuilt many times since. It had many narrow, winding, brick-flagged passages - gloomy, chilly, echoing - where the ghost of a woman was said to wander. About 1916-7 this legend gained some credence when workmen exhumed the skeleton of a woman, in an upright position from the earthen side of one of the embrasures. In 1889 a dozen adult human skulls had been found during the construction of a new magazine. Even if there were no new or startling disclosures when the bulldozers and shovels attacked this ancient bastion there was plenty of interest to pique the imagination.

It took two tractors to haul away each of the 9-inch guns that were lying unused outside the fort. The great moat had to be filled in; the high outer walls, pierced with a row of loopholes and enfilading gun-ports, surrendered to the construction battalions. So, too, went the "solid masonry and bomb-proof casemates", built with other improvements at a cost of some $271,000.00 in the 1860’s. Rough-clad workmen tramped where once Royal Artillery gunners stepped smartly out in cocked hats, long frock coats and spatterdashes. The staccato of rivetters’ hammers rang out where muzzle-loading cannon once boomed; in record time four great steel cylinders that were modern 100,000 barrel oil storage tanks stood ready for use.


The cargo hose is bolted up. It is being used here to fill the cargo tanks of a merchant aircraft carrier.
The cargo hose is bolted up. It is being used here to fill the cargo tanks of a merchant aircraft carrier.

The United States, friendly in spite of her neutrality, came to our help. Her ships could not cross to Britain, but they could haul oil from Aruba to Halifax - the “Shuttle”. With a much shorter haul from Halifax to the United Kingdom Allied ships could immensely step up the oil supply. In addition, in the ever-changing picture of war this would make available another stockpile.

The first incoming cargo, carried by the S.S. "Beaconlight" arrived in June 1941, arid the first outgoing cargo left the same month. For the P.F.T.S. employees it was the beginning of a strange and exciting series of visitors - for a seaport always has a breath of romance and adventure, and in wartime the tanker fleet brought men and ships to stir the whole gamut of the emotions.

They saw the early anti-submarine defences - the net ships, that carried great steel nets over their sides to stop or explode torpedoes before they hit; then the "Cam" ships, which catapulted a Hurricane fighter’ plane off its bow if a sub appeared and the pilot parachuted down as best he could after a strike at the sub; and in later years, the "MAC" ships, merchant aircraft carriers, that did much to turn the tide of war.

All these and more tied up regularly at the docks. In January 1943, the M.S. "Rapana" loaded oil for the United Kingdom. In September of the same year she came in again this time a flattop! A flight deck had been built above her upper decks, and now besides hauling cargo she carried aircraft to shepherd the convoy.

When the first flattops came in their overhanging sponsons welling up to the flight deck prevented them from docking properly. Special wood floats were constructed as fenders so they could be brought alongside. Then it was discovered the sponsons would fit into certain natural recesses in the docks, and this problem was solved.

In July, 1943, the S. S. John D. Archbold", said to be the largest tanker in the world, 130,978 barrels of fuel and sailed for England - and as some dockside wit remarked at the time “that’s a lot of oil”. Amazingly enough her record was almost equalled by a whaling ship - one of the floating factories which left the business of manufacturing whale oil and brought in 130,596 barrels of fuel to replenish the ever changing stockpile. Behind her, she left on every hand whale’s teeth for souvenirs.

The secret ships which kept oil in their holds and aircraft on an upper flight deck
The secret ships which kept oil in their holds and aircraft on an upper flight deck

Still three more tanks were required, but now the most critical stage of the war shipping losses was approaching. Shipbuilding took all priorities for steel plate. Essential as the tanks were, there was no steel plate to be had for them; none at all. It was decided to build concrete tanks, unsuited as they were to the climate.

Concrete tanks, however, are huge, enormously heavy shells. They must be built on solid ground, or they will crack and split. The newly-filled earth of the old fort site was useless. It was decided to use three sites which were available in the Halifax Refinery tank farm.

Although by then it was the Fall season of 1941, the work went ahead immediately. Sites were cleared, concrete prepared and poured. Steel plate was not available, but reinforcing steel was, and actually the requirements for rod steel reached one-third the weight of a steel tank.

As the three inches of "lean" and six inches of reinforced floor slab was laid it was covered with two-inch steam pipes, tarpaulins and straw to give it Winter protection. Above this a maze of lumber was erected - 205,000 board feet in all. Outside of, and around this, went the light wooden form on which tarpaulin was tacked to form the "warming oven" - and although the temperature outside varied throughout construction from 15 degrees below freezing to 70 degrees F., 12 unit heaters kept the temperature above 50 degrees at all times.

The most important feature of the tanks was the "pre-stressed steel" reinforcing. This consisted of a single rod, anchored at one end in the floor, running spirally around and around the tank up to the top, where it was again fixed. Actually it consisted of many rods, locked by special sleeve nuts. The spirals of steel, held a few inches apart by wooden blocks, were tightened and slackened to a point of zero tension. Then the nuts were tightened. Each one was turned the same amount, until the inward tension on the steel rods was equal to the amount of outward pressure which would be exerted when the tank was full of oil.

The concrete tanks, therefore, don’t do any work when they are filled; they are only under stress and "working" when they are empty.

They carry a different type of strain to the steel tank, however. Crude or heavy oil is thick and slow-running; it is customary to keep it heated by means of a steam coil so that it will flow freely through refinery pipes. Imagine, then, the strain on the concrete walls when a constant temperature of 100 degrees F. is being kept inside the tank, while outside the temperature is rising and falling in variations of Winter weather.

Because of this the most meticulous care was taken in construction. Water was free from all material injurious to concrete. An approved brand of cement was used. The sand and crushed stone were clean, hard, strong, and free from all extraneous matter. The steel rods used for "pre-loading" the tank had a minimum yield point of 60,000 pounds per square inch. The concrete work was carried on continuously, once started, by "guniting" - applying it from a nozzle in the form of a stream or spray. At the bottom the tank wall was 18 inches in thickness, tapering off to five inches at the top. The dome, containing steel reinforcement, was three inches thick, and had no inside supports.

There were 1,036 square yards of cement in each concrete tank, and 205,276 pounds of steel, The tanks were an expensive war item; they took about twice as long to build as steel tanks, and were about twice as expensive; at the same time they met an urgent war need and were in useful operation when the shuttle service ended shortly after the war in Europe. Without doubt they will perform many more years of useful service.

A glance at a few of the overall figures of shuttle operations will show some of the returns on the investment. In round figures 33,000,000 barrels of oil were handled - 3,900,000 in 1941, 3,000,000 in 1942, 8,200,000 in 1943, 11,200,000 in 1944, and 6,100,000 in the first five months of 1945. In long tons, the vessels which docked at the shuttle jetties carried cargoes totalling 4,622,506 - an imposing figure.

Today the shuttle service from Halifax Refinery has become history. The ships and men who were part of it are turning again to peacetime work, But at Halifax Refinery, in the tanker fleet, and among the master minds who plan strategy in high places, the shuttle service out of Halifax will stand as a triumph in the vital war of oil supply.

Ships loading at the shuttle service docks in Halifax Harbor, in the background is Imperial Oil’s Halifax refinery.
Ships loading at the shuttle service docks in Halifax Harbor, in the background is Imperial Oil’s Halifax refinery. The Company undertook to build the shuttle service equipment and operate it for the British Petroleum Board.

A group of 24 small Diesel tankers, built in U.S. for British use, brought local cargoes down from the Lakes and then picked up a P.F.T.S. load for the ocean crossing. They were neat, new and very trim.

There came, once, a tanker which had been luxuriously, fabulously fitted out by her rich seagoing owner. His suite was done in rare woods; the feet sank deep in a Persian carpet in which was worked his crest; the rooms were panelled with rare woods; there was a grand piano in the corner of the main room and an immense chesterfield in front of a marble fireplace. Life at the dockside was always interesting.

There came from the sea many cripples. Some ships were torpedoed, others the victims of collision. Some had burned, and many of their crews had died at sea. Within a period of months five ships came in with huge cracks, victims of North Atlantic weather and water.

The cripples meant much work. They had to be unloaded in such a way as not to strain and further damage the ship. Every bit of their precious cargo had to be salvaged if possible. Once salvaged it had to be "cleaned", for it usually was contaminated with sea water. All this added to the wartime burden of extra work on both men and equipment.

Such was the ever-changing, ever-fascinating wartime picture. But to care for these many ships there was great activity ashore.

Under the first agreement the British Petroleum Board rented five 80,000 barrel tanks from Halifax Refinery, Both the British Petroleum Board and the officials of Imperial Oil Limited, however, acted without realizing the future trend of the war at sea - something no man could foresee. In the light of developments their plans had to be revised.

At first the Americans, unhampered by war had filled all tanks and the convoy-bound Allies could not get the oil away fast enough. Then the United States entered the war. Submarines sank ship after ship along the Atlantic seaboard. Demands upon the Halifax Refinery skyrocketed as American ships were added to those already clamoring for dock space and fuel. The shipping situation grew steadily worse.


IMPERIAL OIL REVIEW Winter 1945
Click to download
Imperial Review Winter 1945, PDF format courtesy of  Glenbow Archives, Calgary

IMPERIAL OIL REVIEW Winter 1945 pages 36 to 39
courtesy of Glenbow Archives, Calgary

MARITIME FRONT
IMPERIAL OIL REVIEW Winter 1945 small tanker Norwood Park takes on fuel
IMPERIAL OIL REVIEW Winter 1945 deck of a small tanker Norwood Park
A small tanker comes into the dock where the oil loading jetties are located in Halifax harbour. These vessels did invaluable work in the fast fuelling of ships during the war.

The "cluttered orderliness" of a tanker’s deck. It is covered with control valves, deck wells, loading hose, and fire equipment.

IMPERIAL OIL REVIEW Winter 1945 small tanker Norwood Park takes on fuel
IMPERIAL OIL REVIEW Winter 1945 small tanker Norwood Park takes on fuel
The "Norwood Park" taking on fuel at Halifax Refinery. When the hoses are connected the pumps are started and the tanker fills at the rate of 4,000 barrels an hour from the storage tanks.

Forced by steam pumps, the oil comes down from shore tanks to the oiling jetty below, and into the tanker “Norwood Park” alongside.

IF Y0U were to hold mirror to the first 67 months, of the wartime industrial picture of Imperial Oil, Limited in the Maritimes, the reflection would be the pulsing movement of the mighty Allied effort on Canada’s eastern seaboard - the greatest convoys of all time, the warships and merchantmen and troopers, the coast-long mushrooming of air stations, patrol by land and sea and air, the military camps.

The first and greatest job was oil for ships, more than 4,000,000 barrels a year. The next was aviation gasoline for the air stations that dotted the coastline. Then came a host of other priority demands: the army, contractors’ needs for defence projects, steel mills, coal mines, shipbuilding yards.

The intricate job of pinpointing supply where and when needed, always in sufficient quantity but not permitting a surplus to jam a port or a station and tie up vital shipping space, was one of the master strokes in home-front war effort. ft was achieved by complete cooperation between railroads, the services, and the petroleum industry. Imperial Oil Limited had about 300 tank cars on the Maritime rails at all times. Their schedules would be carefully worked out for maximum efficiency of supply. Then suddenly the whole situation would change. Weather would black out some areas. Enemy activity would bring ships and aircraft to others. Troop movements would jam rail heads. Supply ships would be delayed and sometimes sunk. Tank cars and sometimes ships would have to be recalled or re-routed, and a Maritimes-wide schedule re-made; and this, perhaps, would again be scrapped in 24 hours in light of shifting demands.

There were many grave times in those 67 months. One exceeded all others. In 1942 the Germans cut supply lines along the Atlantic seaboard from South American and U.S. Ports to the point where tankers could not supply the crude oil demand at Halifax Refinery. These were the days when Allied heads of government wondered if the war would be won.

This crisis was met by bringing tank car trains from the Montreal & Sarnia Refineries of Imperial Oil Limited. From May to November, 1942, a total of 1,942 tank car loads of fuel held Allied supply lines from snapping at Halifax. Those cars travelled over lines already sorely pressed with traffic.

For the rest of the time, Halifax Refinery was able to import enough crude oil, if not all it would have liked. Many millions of gallons of refined products brought by rail from Montreal and also by sea from other points supplemented its production.

It is a human failing to look back over the hands once they have been played and discover what happy combinations won the game, in spite of the magnificent work done in other Maritime centres, this inevitably leads us to Halifax, a great seaport. Here called the biggest ships in the world, sucking up 5,000 tons at a fuelling. Convoys of up to 170 ships sailed in one day. In 2,000 days 20,000 ships passed through this port.

When the first world war began, Imperial Oil Limited had storage tanks on the shores of Bedford Basin beyond Halifax Harbor proper. These were sufficient to bunker the ships of that day, but the strategic importance of the great convoy port made it obvious these would prove inadequate. It was decided to build a refinery across the harbor some two miles below the town of Dartmouth. The work was begun in 1916 and was near completion in 1917; as the cargoes of crude came in from the southern ports the refinery played a vital part at one of the most critical junctures of the first battle of the North Atlantic against Germany’s undersea boats.

Such was its beginning. During the peace years there were a few changes. in 1939 it sprawled along 5,000 feet of harbor waterfront, and back from the shore over 532 acres of land. Adjoining it was a village of 32 residences, built for company employees because of the remote situation of the refinery. It had three docks; there are now six. its capacity was 41,000 barrels per stream day of refined products.

In its manufacturing hand Halifax Refinery held some trump cards. They permitted it roughly to double total production during war as compared with the previous five years, and to increase by more than four times the output of bunker fuel for ships.

Curiously enough it was a trend away from production of bunker fuel that was responsible for this achievement. Prior to 1930 all crude was processed in units known as crude skimming stills. These, by a simple process, break down the crude oil into its chief components: gasolines, the diesel oils, the heavier bunker oils and asphalt.

But this equipment was not adequate to meet the demand of the times. The world was speeding up. Everyone was buying a car; aircraft were becoming more and more common. Ship traffic was falling off rather than increasing. More and better gasoline was the need, not bunker fuels.

Chemical engineers of the oil industry had discovered a wonderful new way to produce more gasoline. In addition to the gasoline naturally in the oil they took the “gas oils” and by subjecting them to a heat and pressure treatment, "cracked" them and lo! they broke up again like the original crude into gasolines, light oils such as the diesels, bunker, and asphalt. Later a further processing change was decided upon, and this resulted in the redesigning of the refinery’s "two stage cracking units" to a Combination Unit incorporating the skimming of raw crude oils.
This bunker fuel flowed out to other ports also, for the fueling of the vast supply fleets crossing the North Atlantic. Much of it went to Newfoundland; Saint John, N.B. and Sydney, N.S, were two important Maritime convoy ports.

Some idea of the work of the refinery may be had from production figures. Prior to the war, the average for five years was 98,000 barrels of bunker fuel per month. During the five war years the average was 400,000 barrels per month. The five year pre-war average of crude oil handled was 3,960,000 barrels; the average for each of the five war years was 6,850,000 barrels.

Vast quantities of fuels and lubricants were required for the host of major construction projects such as dockyards and air fields throughout the Maritimes. A major part of these came from the refinery. Asphalt, too was supplied for air stations at Debert, Yarmouth, Sydney, Moncton, Summerside, Charlottetown, Dartmouth, Greenwood and Newfoundland airports. The steel mills and the shipyards speeded up and the company’s lubricating engineers were constantly in touch with industry, studying and solving new problems. But the greatest effort of the petroleum industry centred about the ships and the war-long Battle of the North Atlantic. Let’s look at the oil jetties, where the ships refuel.

during WW2 the Halifax Refinery of Imperial Oil Limited roughly doubled its total production.
The Halifax Refinery of Imperial Oil Limited roughly doubled its total production. More than 19,000,000 barrels of bunker and Diesel fuel were supplied to ships.

In the summer of 1939, for instance, they knew at Halifax Refinery’s jetties that something was up. There were sudden, inexplicable movements of ships and demands for fuel. British cruisers tied up quietly at the dock, and destroyers edged their sharp prows in during the last days of August. War was declared September 3rd.

The biggest ship that had ever tied up at the refinery came in 10 days later - the French liner "Champlain". She was lost by enemy action later, like many another old friend or acquaintance at the oiling jetties.

Not long afterward another French liner, the mighty "Pasteur" broke this "big ship" record. The "Pasteur" is a 30,000 tonner. There were others also.

The “Iocoma”, an Imperial Oil Limited tanker which had been in Montreal when war was declared, arrived September 15th. She took over the onerous job of harbor fueling, and no one dreamed what demands would be made upon her. At one time she did not stop work for two weeks. Her ship’s company snatched forty winks when the ship was alongside the jetty taking on oil or up in the harbor pumping into the tanks of a merchantman or warship. Weeks and months ran by with scarcely a break of a moment for the hands, who slept, ate and worked aboard as if they were steadily at sea.

From the time of the "Iocoma’s"’ arrival the oiling jetties extended their work to the harbor, the docks, and Bedford Basin. "locoma", in fog, mist, snowstorms and fine weather, 24 hours a day, would poke her way about looking for ships showing the three vertical white lights that meant they wanted fuel.

The last weeks of ‘39 brought great and famous ships "Repulse", "Revenge", "York", "Furious", "Warspite", "Resolution", "Perth" - and the big troopers - the men at the oiling jetties knew the secrets of war, but they kept them well - the French "Lorraine", "Marseillaise", "Gloire", "Dunkerque" - names that are forever written into the history of World War II.

Ships and their men became real, became friends. The "Jervis Bay", for instance, that took on fuel from the refinery before her glorious last voyage. Not only the navy and merchant navy, but the men of the company’s own tanker fleet, running crude and extra cargoes of refined products into Halifax.

A Norwegian whaler, a floating factory, came in with tanks full of oil, and like a mother duck with a family of ducklings brought a flock of fishing schooners that were to become navy patrol ships.

The chaps at the jetties and on the "Iocoma" felt they were getting quite chummy with such doughty visitors as "Royal Sovereign", "Malaya", "Valiant", "Revenge", "Caradoc" - stalwarts of British sea power.

Late in ‘40 the U.S. destroyers of the "destroyers-for-bases" trade began to arrive. They couldn’t make the full trip to Britain, and the tanker "Petrolite" was loaded with 12,000 barrels of bunkers and sailed ahead of them for Newfoundland. In St. John’s harbor they tied up alongside her, and she topped off their tanks. They had tough trips. The fall gales were blowing up, and some of the young sailors had no enthusiasm for the job.

The procession continued and grew as the Battle of the Atlantic waxed in intensity. It seemed hard to believe the figures of the Halifax pre-war seasons. In 1935 there had been 46 liners in all in the four month Winter season. In 1939 there were 90 liners. All other ships of assorted sizes, taking much less fuel, amounted to about 30 a month.

Then came Pearl Harbor. The ships came in a rush. Big and small, merchantmen and navy. H.M.S. "King George V" moved majestically into the harbor, and stealthily by night the "Iocoma" tied up alongside and filled her tanks. It was good to see her strength. Most of the warships of those days were the hastily converted Armed Merchant Cruises, many of these the ships mentioned above that in peace years used to come in as liners.

The "Royal Sovereign" docked. As the "Iocoma" pumped oil in from one side the crew saw fortunes in gold bricks being carried off the other. They weren’t allowed to move until the gold had all been taken ashore.

The famous French submarine "Surcouf", once the biggest in the world, came in; and then the "Capa Rosa", the prize of war captured in the St. Lawrence. This was indeed a panorama of events.

There were also interesting visitors. Russian submarines. The "Queen Elizabeth" with an order for 6,000 tons at one fueling. And strange ships, now known to all the world but then most secret, called landing ships.

The landing ships passed through Halifax in an ever-increasing stream - landing ships of all types, for many purposes. The men at the oil jetties also noted the growing traffic in troopers the "Queen Elizabeth", the "Queen Mary", "Aquitania", "Andes", "Pasteur" - the greatest, the most famous, filling with troops invasion-bound.

Then came June, 1944. For three weeks there was scarcely a ship in. The lull had but one meaning: invasion. All Summer there was a rush of shipping, supplies for the arms-hungry, food-hungry fighting fronts.

Then the troopers started coming back. Victory was ours. Ships that were old friends came back. Others would never sail again.

An oil jetty is in the dress row for the panorama of ships that go down to the sea, and the men who sail them. The work of the company in the Maritimes reflected the whole pulsing war of movement on the Atlantic seaboard.

There are 10 fuel compartments on the “Norwood Park”, Gauger George Hoskin, of Halifax Refinery, is discussing the fuel load with Chief Stoker Donald Conron of the Royal Canadian Navy.
There are 10 fuel compartments on the “Norwood Park”, Gauger George Hoskin, of Halifax Refinery, is discussing the fuel load with Chief Stoker Donald Conron of the Royal Canadian Navy. The gauger’s job is to see that the fuel tanks are properly "topped off" and to measure the amount.

So it came about the new equipment for this purpose was installed at Halifax Refinery in 1938. The new "combination Unit - skimming and two-stage cracking" was the pride of the refinery. Men glanced at the old crude skimming stills as they walked by with a look that told you this outmoded equipment had seen its day.

Then came the war. The ships wanting 5,000 tons at a fuelling - the great convoys - the "Queen Mary," "Queen Elizabeth", the "Renown" and "Hood" sailing out to meet the "Bismarck" - they wanted bunker fuel, high grade bunkers, to give every ounce of power to the turn of the ship’s screws as they sought the enemy or ran his gauntlet.

Suddenly the old crude skimming stills, thoroughly efficient for the job of producing bunker, became respectable. Halifax Refinery played its trump card to the tune of 18,000 barrels per stream day, of which roughly 80 percent was bunker. Refinery engineers are practical men and not given to idle reflection, but many a time as they watched the veteran crude skimming stills pour out bunkers to the ships they thought of the happy wisdom of the company’s executives in installing a new unit and leaving the old to give flexibility of production in spite of the new gasoline era of the past two decades.

All this, however, is not to belittle the work of the new Combination Unit, which produced 16,000 barrels per stream day, including aviation and motor gasoline. The remaining 7,000 barrels of production came from a “rerun still”.

Imperial Oil’s Dartmouth refinery, the only plant of its kind on Canada’s Atlantic seaboard.
These crude skimming stills were revived to supply bunker fuel to meet the immense demands of wartime shipping.
During the war years the tremendous requirements of bunker fuels, aviation and motor gasoline and other products presented a special challenge to Imperial Oil’s Dartmouth refinery, the only plant of its kind on Canada’s Atlantic seaboard.

These crude skimming stills were revived to supply bunker fuel to meet the immense demands of wartime shipping. They ran up to 18,000 barrels per day.

IMPERIAL OIL REVIEW Winter 1945
Click to download
Imperial Review Winter 1945, PDF format courtesy of  Glenbow Archives, Calgary