DULUTH – Husky Energy is suspending the rebuilding of its oil refinery in Superior due to the coronavirus.
“Given the current safety and public health risks, Husky has begun a systematic and orderly suspension of major construction activities related to the Superior rebuild project,” spokeswoman Kim Guttormson said Tuesday.
The refinery was damaged by an explosion and fire in April 2018 that injured dozens and caused thousands of residents to evacuate. Husky received the final approvals to begin reconstruction in September.
The project was initially expected to cost $400 million but, with additional “modernizations and enhanced safety features” it will be about $750 million, Guttormson said. About 150 people are working on the rebuild project.
“We know the decision to suspend work on the project has an impact on many people,” Guttormson said. “We made this decision with the sole focus of the health and safety of our workforce, including contractors, their families and everyone living in our community.”
Some workers will remain on site as essential functions such as the wastewater treatment plant and gasoline and diesel terminals continue, she said. Social distancing rules are in place for employees and customers, including the pacing of truck traffic.
Guttormson said Husky would be “evaluating plans on how we will resume the work at a later date, in consultation with our unions and contractor partners.”
The Alberta-based company said it was pulling back on other developments, including an offshore oil project, due to COVID-19 concerns.
Earlier this month Husky announced it was cutting spending by $1 billion Canadian dollars this year due to a steep drop in the price of oil.