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Ferndale: Efficient by design, with the stars to prove it

The Phillips 66 Ferndale Refinery in Washington is energy efficient by design — and it’s got the stars to prove it.

For much of the past decade, the refinery has been a model for energy performance on the U.S. West Coast. It has notched six Energy Star certifications in seven years from the Environmental Protection Agency, thanks to a comprehensive capital upgrade program, ongoing stewardship and a site culture that strives for continued improvement.

“We’ve been set up very well from previous engineers in the past,” said Phillips 66 Business Performance Engineer Lauren Turner, who oversees energy monitoring at the refinery. “We run efficiently, which means we keep energy intensity low, and we run reliably.

“These things put us in a good position to get Energy Star every year.”

Ferndale, the 105,000-barrel-per-day refinery on Washington’s Puget Sound, was one of a record four Phillips 66 refineries to earn Energy Star certifications for their 2019 performance, a testament to the company’s commitment to environmental stewardship.

The others were Sweeny in Texas, Billings in Montana and the San Francisco Refinery’s Rodeo plant, which became the first in California to earn Energy Star status. Only eight other U.S. refineries achieved the coveted certification for superior energy performance.

'Paying attention to the small things'

Ferndale, which is celebrating its 66th anniversary, stays on top of energy performance through detailed oversight and a comprehensive monthly stewardship led by Turner, who also oversees the Energy Star application process for the refinery. Last year, Turner assisted Rodeo with its certification.

“We take energy seriously,” Turner said. “It’s not just about being in the top quartile of your group for energy efficiency. You also have to be environmentally responsible by running safely and reliably.”

It is a team effort that requires a commitment to ongoing improvement and communication, says Phillips 66 Process Engineer Tim Davis, whose responsibilities include ensuring the refinery’s boilers are optimized to meet steam needs while keeping energy costs down.

“Operators daily will talk to me about ways we can improve and optimize our processes,” Davis said. “It’s a culture of paying attention to the small things that’s been developed over the years. And it shows our commitment to our community, to the environment and to our site.”

Energy efficiency ‘a given'

For many years now, every project at Ferndale has been reviewed for energy efficiency improvements.

The refinery got a major boost in 2012 with the installation of a vacuum steam generator, which allowed the refinery to recover previously wasted heat and turn it into steam energy. More recently, a hydrotreater installed to help the refinery meet stricter gasoline standards provided additional energy efficiencies around heat recovery and reuse.

“We use a comprehensive checklist for all of our projects that forces us to make sure we are thinking about those efficiencies,” said Phillips 66 Senior Project Engineer Mark Kitzan, who led both projects. “Anytime we say ‘no’ to an item, we have to justify why it would not comply.

“It’s a given we’re going to be energy efficient in our designs by following these practices.”