Project Snapshot
Detroit Heavy Oil Upgrade Project
Facility Type: Refinery
Scope: Expansion
Owner: Marathon
Location: Detroit, Michigan  United States
Region: North America
Modified:  September 20, 2010

Facility description

In operation since 1930 and owned by Marathon Oil Co. since 1959, Marathon Petroleum Co. LLC's Detroit Refinery is Michigan's only oil refinery. The facility processes 102,000 b/d of crude oil. Gasoline represents one-half of its product mix; the facility also produces distillate, asphalt, slurry, propane, chemical-grade propylene, and sulfur.

The Detroit Refinery's capabilities include crude fractionation, catalytic cracking, hydrotreating, reforming, alkylation, and sulfur recovery. In 2005, Marathon completed an expansion that increased the facility's processing capacity by 23,000 b/d, or 1 million gallons per day, of additional motor fuels to the Detroit market. The clean fuels project enabled the refinery to produce low-sulfur gasoline and ultra low sulfur diesel (ULSD).

The refinery processes crude slates ranging from light sweets to heavy sours, and many of these crudes originate in Canada.

Expansion project

Canadian crudes are becoming increasingly important to the Detroit Refinery, and a new project will allow Marathon to take greater advantage of Canada's abundant and less expensive heavier crude oils. Marathon in January 2008 awarded Fluor Corp. a $1.6 billion engineering procurement and construction (EPC) contract for the Detroit Heavy Oil Project (Detroit HOUP). The $2.2 billion project will increase the refinery's processing capacity by 13,000 b/d.

According to Marathon, a key feature of Detroit HOUP will be the addition of a new 28,000 b/d delayed coker. The processing unit will convert heavier, asphalt-like feedstocks into liquid petroleum fuel blend components and petroleum coke. In addition, the delayed coker will enable the Detroit Refinery to thermally convert and upgrade heavy crude into products such as gasoline, diesel, and petroleum coke.

Detroit HOUP will also equip the facility with a number of emission-reducing technologies, including: a sulfur recovery complex, ultra-low NOx burners, a 33,000 b/d distillate hydrotreater, and a hydrogen plant for hydrotreating units that remove sulfur from motor fuels.

Marathon Pipe Line LLC will construct an associated 24-inch, 29-mile-long pipeline that will replace an existing 16-inch section of active pipeline that crosses portions of the southeastern Michigan counties of Monroe and Wayne. The pipeline route will parallel approximately 63% of the existing utility corridors.

Marathon on June 20, 2008, announced that construction had begun following the company's receipt of an air quality permit by the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality.

On February 3, 2009, Marathon announced that it was cutting its capital spending for 2009 by 24%, from $7.6 billion to $5.7 billion. In conjunction with the need to cut spending, Marathon decided to defer the completion of Detroil HOUP to mid-2012 rather than 2010 as previously planned.

The company noted the cost of the project had increased 15% to $2.2 billion and that its scope would change to allow the refinery to process heavier and higher acidic crudes. Moreover, Marathon stated the move would better align the project's completion with changes in Canadian oil sands production projectsions.

In February 2010, Marathon reported that construction activities continue on Detroit HOUP and that the project was 30% complete.

The project will require an average of 800 construction workers a day until its completion. It will ultimately add some 60 full-time employees and 75 full-time contractors. Presently, there are 480 full-time employees at the refinery.

A Sept. 16, 2010, article in the Detroit Free Press newspaper quotes Gary Heminger, Marathon's Executive Vice President-Downstream, as saying that the company will greatly expand the number of contractors on the project by mid-2011--from approximately 650 to anywhere from 1,800 to 2,000. As a result, Marathon expects to complete the project by the fourth quarter of 2012.

  Key Stats
Year constructed:
Major process units:
crude fractionation, catalytic cracking, hydrotreating, reforming, alkylation, and sulfur recovery
gasoline; distillates; asphalt; slurry; propane; chemical-grade propylene; sulfur
Construction type:
Current capacity:
102,000 b/d
Post project capacity:
115,000 b/d
Project cost:
Fluor Corp.
Project completion date:
Q4 2012
  Related Articles
Marathon Petroleum Restarts Detroit Refinery After Expansion Project
Nov 06, 2012 - Marathon Petroleum Corp. (MPC) restarted its newly expanded 120,000-barrel-a-day refinery in Detroit, finishing a project that will increase greatly the amount of Canadian crude oil the refinery uses, the company said Tuesday.
Marathon Petroleum: Detroit Refinery to be Online 'Later This Month'
Nov 02, 2012 - Marathon Petroleum Corp. (MPC) will have its expanded Detroit refinery online in the coming weeks after finishing a project that expands its heavy crude processing capability, the company said Friday.
Marathon's Downstream Budget Focuses on Detroit Project
Feb 02, 2011 - Marathon Oil Corp. announced Wednesday a $5.267 billion capital, investment and exploration budget for 2011, consistent with prior guidance and a 9 percent increase from 2010 capital spending.
Marathon to Accelerate Detroit Expansion
Sep 20, 2010 - After a lengthy delay, Marathon Oil plans to significantly ramp up work next summer that will expand its oil refinery in southwest Detroit, creating more than a thousand construction jobs.
With Garyville Project Done, Marathon To Cut 53% from Downstream Capex
Feb 01, 2010 - Marathon Oil Corp. on Monday announced a $5.1 billion capital, investment and exploration budget for 2010, a 17 percent decrease from 2009 capital spending.
Air Products To Build Hydrogen Plant for Detroit Refinery Upgrade
Apr 22, 2009 - Air Products on Tuesday announced the signing of an agreement to construct a hydrogen production facility in Detroit, Mich., for Marathon Petroleum Company LLC, a subsidiary of Marathon Oil Corp.
Marathon Cuts Capital Budget By 24%
Feb 03, 2009 - Marathon Oil Corp. on Tuesday announced a $5.7 billion capital, investment and exploration budget for 2009, which represents a 24 percent decrease from 2008 capital spending of $7.6 billion.
Marathon Delays Detroit Project Completion To 2012
Feb 03, 2009 - Marathon Oil Corp said Tuesday the completion of the upgrade to its 100,000-barrel-per-day Detroit refinery will be delayed to mid-2012 as the company plans spending cuts for this year.
Oil Sands Project Delays Could Be Boon for US Refiners
Jan 08, 2009 - The wave of project delays in Alberta's massive oil sands could benefit U.S. refiners at the cost of the provincial government's ambitions.
Marathon: Detroit Heavy Oil Project To Be Slowed
Oct 30, 2008 - In an effort to pare back spending, Marathon Oil Corp. (MRO) has delayed a project geared toward running cheap grades of crude oil at its Detroit refinery.
Marathon Detroit Expansion Enters Construction Phase
Jun 20, 2008 - Marathon Oil Corp. announced Friday that construction of the estimated $1.9 billion heavy oil upgrading project at its Detroit refinery is underway following issuance of an air quality permit.
Mich. To Fix Roads Near Detroit Refinery
May 22, 2008 - The proposed $1.9-billion expansion of the Marathon Oil Corp. refinery got a boost this week when the state pledged a $1.2-million grant to fix up roadways around the facility in southwest Detroit.
Marathon Doubling R&M, Transportation Spending in 2008
Jan 31, 2008 - Marathon Oil Corp. on Wednesday announced an $8 billion capital, investment and exploration budget for 2008, which represents a 67 percent increase over 2007 spending of $4.8 billion.
Marathon Awards Fluor $1.6B Contract for Detroit Expansion
Jan 04, 2008 - Fluor Corp. will provide integrated engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) for Marathon Oil Corp.'s projected $1.9 billion expansion and upgrade of the company's Detroit, Mich., refinery.
Marathon Board Okays $1.9B Detroit Refinery Expansion
Oct 31, 2007 - Marathon Oil Corp. on Wednesday announced that its board of directors has approved a projected $1.9 billion expansion and heavy oil upgrade project at the company's Detroit, Mich., refinery.
Detroit Council Okays Tax Breaks for Marathon
Oct 10, 2007 - A $1.5-billion expansion of Marathon Petroleum's southwest Detroit refinery moved closer to reality Tuesday.

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