The Imperial Oil Review July 1918 pages 3, 4, and 5
courtesy of Glenbow Archives, Calgary
The Imperial Oil Review July 1918 The Halifax Refinery Cover page

By W. B. Elsworth

The Imperial Oil Review July 1918 Halifax Harbor
Halifax Harbor
The Imperial Oil Review July 1918 The Halifax Refinery by W. B. Elsworth

W. B. Elsworth
Plant Manager and author of the article

ON the Eastern shore of the Halifax Harbor, about 2.5 miles south of Dartmouth, N.S., is located the latest and most modern refinery of Imperial Oil Limited. The excellent shipping facilities offered by the Halifax Harbor, together with the great scarcity of ocean tonnage, led the Executives of our Company in the summer of 1916 to locate a plant for the transhipment of Mexican crude oil from tank steamers to tank cars for delivery to the Company's Montreal refinery. This plant consisted of two 115 ft. diameter by 35 ft. high, all-steel tanks, a filling rack to accommodate forty of the largest tankers in our service, and a dock capable of docking bulk-oil boats. The property on which this plant was built consisted of two farms, totalling 179 acres, only a part of each of which was cleared. The ground was very hilly with quite abrupt slopes and after a few months' work with steam-shovel and bush gangs it was prepared for the equipment enumerated. In January, 1917, the plant was completed and immediately after, two cargoes of crude oil were received in the S.S. “Sarnolite” and S.S. “Somerset” which were then shipped to Montreal refinery in solid trains of twenty tank cars each.

Late in the Fall of 1916, the manufacturing possibilities of the site on the Halifax Harbor engaged the attention of the Company’s Executives and it was decided to erect a refinery there. The plant is laid out for an eventual capacity of 10,000 barrels per day, although the present requirement is less than this amount. Despite the many delays, incident to the adverse conditions of the material market and transportation, the refinery was placed in commission on February 18th, 1918, and has been running continuously since that date, with the exception of the pressure stills, which will increase the gasoline yield from the crude. The plant has a present capacity of 2,200 barrels of crude per day, consisting of 500 barrels of Crichton crude, and 1,700 barrels of Mexican crude. It consists of ten tower crude stills of 1,100 barrels each charging capacity. In these stills is carried on the first distillation of the crudes, and they are of the latest and most modern types, and are equipped with fractionating towers and radiators.

Plant Equipment
The finishing or steam stills, of which there are now two, are 15 ft. in diameter and 57 ft. long over all, and are equipped with towers, condensers, upper pans, vapor-heat exchangers and oil heat exchangers.

The treating plant, of which there are two distinct parts, consists of an apparatus for treating naphtha continuously, and also of the regular type of agitator of suitable capacity, complete with acid and lye apparatus and the necessary pumping equipment.

The pressure-still plant will consist of twenty-two eight ft. by thirty ft. shell stills, some of which will be equipped with false bottoms and some with sweeps, but all of which can be operated at 75 lbs. gauge or higher. They are being erected in batteries of twelve.

In addition to the distilling and treating apparatus, there is an acid plant of from five to ten tons per day capacity, which is used to recover the spent acid after it has been used for treating purposes.

The steam power plant consists of four units of water tube boilers, having a nominal rating of 100 boiler horsepower each, and is the first installation of this type of boiler that we have in our refineries.

As far as possible the pumping throughout the refinery is done by electrical power, and the electrical power plant installation consists of three 100 K.W. three-phase, 110 volt, 25 cycle alternators, belted to three 110 H.P. single cylinder De La Vergne Diesel-type oil engines.

Our fresh-water requirements are secured from Morris Lake, which lies two miles from the Harbor and to which the company's property extends. The fresh water pumps are driven by electricity, supplied from our own power plant by a transmission line carrying a potential of 2.200 volts which is stepped down to 110 volts at the pump motors.

As fire protection, there is a pump-house located on the water’s edge along the Harbor which serves a network of water lines reaching to all points of the refinery.

A complete system of sewers serves the refinery and leads to a large, modern separator, which extracts all oil escaping with the sewer water before the latter discharges into the harbor.

The usual series of pump-houses and other buildings such as are met with in refineries are in use, only one of which we particularly mention. The filling building and warehouse are located on the water-front adjoining the Company’s dock, and are so designed as to allow for railway or boat movement of package products with a minimum of handling. This building will be under the jurisdiction of the marketing department.

When the plant was projected, it was decided to burn oil fuel, but to anticipate future conditions as far as possible, it was laid out for using coal, lf desired.

Assistance to the Allies.
During the construction of the refinery, as the tankage was completed, it was turned over to the use of the British Government for the handling of Admiralty fuel oil, and during one month as much as 350,000 barrels of this product have been received while a maximum of 225,000 barrels have been shipped out. As many as 35 cargoes have passed over our dock in the course of one mouth so that the Company’s shipping facilities have been of great assistance to the Allied Governments in their prosecution of the War.

Aid Rendered at Time of Disaster.
One incident occurred during the construction that will not be forgotten while the memory of the War lasts. On December 6th, 1917, an incoming steamer collided in the Narrows, which separate Halifax Harbor from Bedford Basin, with an outward bound Belgian Relief Ship. The incoming vessel was loaded with a cargo of T. T. and Benzol, which took fire and exploded a few minutes later. The force of the explosion razed the northern sections of Halifax and Dartmouth. The explosion was responsible for the death of 2,000 people, besides making 20,000 people homeless. No damage was done to the refinery, although several workmen were thrown to the ground by the force of the explosion three miles away.

Immediately after the disaster all the movable construction material and our labor forces were rushed to the cities to provide shelter and protection for the injured and homeless. In our camp - established for the housing of the labor forces during construction - our men (including the staffs in the camp, to all of whom great credit is due "doubled up" and worked harder to provide comfort and attention for the homeless and injured. One hundred and sixty refugees, amongst whom were fifty to sixty children, were nursed and cared for, and the efforts of our refinery staff were so thorough that from a collection taken up amongst themselves all the refugees were provided with Christmas gifts. Shortly after January 1st, relief organizations in the two cities were completed to the point where they could care for all the refugees and where they could spare our workmen, so that the refinery work could be proceeded with. During the period of recovery from the disaster, our Company expended a substantial sum of money for relief work, besides giving freely of labor and material.

The Management.
The management of the affairs of the refinery is under the control of Mr. W. B. Elsworth, Superintendent, and he is ably assisted by C. B. Leaver, Assistant Superintendent, G. L. Stewart, Mechanical Superintendent, and J. L. lsnor, Accountant.

Imperial Oil Review July 1918 Halifax Refinery Force

Halifax Refinery Force

Imperial Oil Review July 1918 Glimpses of Halifax Refinery