Champlin Petroleum Company
Corpus Christi, TX, U.S.

Champlin Petroleum Corpus Christi Refinery Expansion

​Champlin Petroleum Company awarded Fluor the engineering, procurement and construction of the expansion project to double the capacity of the Corpus Christi refinery. The project goal was to increase crude capacity of the existing refinery from 65,000 barrels per day to approximately 125,000 barrels per day and increase the yield per 42 gallon barrel of crude from 20 gallons of gasoline to 25 gallons. 

Major new components included a fluid catalytic cracker and alkylation units, a computer control installation, a new gasoline blending system and a 40-mile pipeline linking the refinery to a distant tank farm. The work scope included construction of tankage nearly four miles away, a new wastewater treatment plant and storage facilities. Other off-site construction included a steam generating plant, fuel oil supply, air and nitrogen supply systems, boiler feed-water treating plant, firewater supply, an electrical substation and propane and butane storage.

Client's Challenge

The Champlin refinery, once known as the Pontiac refinery, has undergone several expansions in the years since it began processing crude alongside the Corpus Christi Ship Channel in the late 1930s.

Champlin Petroleum was investing capital to double the size of the refinery's capacity from 65,000 to 125,000 barrels per day. The new alkylation process unit had the ability to handle low- as well as high-sulfur crude and meet current and anticipated environmental standards.

As part of the client's requirements, the existing refinery operations were to be undisturbed and avoid any potential shutdowns during the expansion construction. The new wastewater treatment area needed to be designed to meet new Environmental Protection Agency specifications. Due to the close location next to the ship channel, the construction had to mitigate being 14 feet below sea level and the changing water level due to tides and shifting sand strata.​

Fluor's Solution

​Before construction began, several facilities had to be demolished. Crews safely dynamited old brick stacks and foundations which had been laid without rebar.​

During the mid-1970s, there was a pronounced construction manpower shortage in the Gulf Coast. Leveraging Fluor's labor relations strong association with the national building trades, the Corpus Christi job required a special labor agreement to be negotiated to import union craftsmen from all over the country. The Champlin Expansion union workforce peaked at 2,200.​

A task force of more than 450 engineers and designers at peak worked the expansion plans. Key to the ability to avert a two-week shutdown of the refinery was effective pre-planning by the Task Force to make 582 major piping tie-ins. Not one day of production at the refinery was lost during the expansion construction.

Procurement and logistics of the large fabricated vessels from Italy and Venezuela were critical to achieving the construction schedule.


​Fluor was successful in delivering the Champlin Expansion project three months ahead of schedule and without a refinery production shutdown.​