During the summer semester of 2014 University of Utah MS Petroleum Engineering students visited 14 engineering operations and facilities. The goal was first hand exposure to oil and gas operations in Utah and Wyoming. Following the visit to PacifiCorp’s Currant Creek Natural Gas Combined Cycle power plant [link], students toured Tesoro’s North Salt Lake refinery.

mspe_tesoro2Tesoro’s Salt Lake City refinery began operations in 1908 and is now the largest in Utah, with 58,000 barrels per day (bpd) capacity. Tesoro’s refinery is configured to process crude oils primarily from Utah, Colorado and Wyoming. As a result, Tesoro’s significant fluid catalytic cracking (FCC) unit capacity makes it ideally suited to process these light, sweet barrels of crude. Primary outputs from the Tesoro refinery include: motor gasoline, diesel fuel, jet fuel, heavy fuel oils and liquefied petroleum gas (LPG). In order to enhance their marketing options, Tesoro also owns and operates a refined products pipeline used to move products to the Pacific Northwest. Students received a detailed plant overview from Tesoro engineers, including tours of the control room, crude unit, fluid catalytic cracker, sulfur processing capabilities, crude storage and truck transloading equipment. The Tesoro refinery’s configuration makes it ideally suited to process Uinta Basin black and yellow waxy crude oils. Students on the field study also observed the upstream production of these products, so the Tesoro refinery visit demonstrated how upstream operations fit into downstream processing to create valuable petroleum products.

mspe_tesoroOver the course of the field study, students encountered a diverse range of petroleum-related operations. These encompassed E&P operations, midstream and downstream facilities, as well as end-use applications. Students also met with service providers and recruiters. The Department of Chemical Engineering was fortunate to work with many of Utah and Wyoming’s key energy companies; including ConocoPhillips, XTO, Savage Energy Services, Fidelity, Resolute, Wolverine, PacifiCorp, Utah Geologic Survey, Tesoro, Newfield, Crescent Point, Red Leaf, U.S. Oil Sands, Halliburton, Questar, and ExxonMobil. Each organization’s willingness to showcase their work and their facilities offered our students a unique opportunity to understand the full life-cycle of hydrocarbon commodities and highlighted potential career paths.