Steel-Pro builds massive gas filter for Colombian refinery

By Bane Okholm | Nov 16, 2012
Photo by: Bane Okholm The 50-foot gas filter housing constructed by Rockland welding and fabricating company Steel-Pro hangs in the balance Nov. 8.

Rockland — "It's very different," Craig Wells said of Barrancabermeja, a Colombian city that is home to the country's largest petroleum refinery. "It's interesting to see, being from Midcoast Maine."

Wells, who is vice president of engineering at Rockland welding and fabrication company Steel-Pro, recently oversaw the construction of a 50-foot gas filter housing that will be used by Colombian petroleum refiners Ecopetrol.

The filter housing was constructed in approximately six months by a small team of Steel-Pro workers. The housing has been tested and approved for two managers from Ecopetrol, who departed the Midcoast region just before the arrival of Hurricane Sandy Oct. 29.

Wells said there was no single challenge in constructing the filter housing. "[It's] a lot of labor, there are a lot of little details," he said. "Failing on one thing means you fail on all."

Construction through collaboration

For more than two decades Steel-Pro has worked with Connecticut-based Mott Corporation to help build process filtration systems used by companies such as Ecopetrol.

"This isn't our first rodeo," said Mott Corporation representative Ed Mahon.

According to Mahon, Mott Corporation partners with smaller companies such as Steel-Pro to construct devices such as the gas filter housing and a smaller counterpart, which will recycle particulate catalytic agents into the refinery rather than allowing them to be released into the atmosphere.

Mahon describes a "very good" relationship between Mott Corporation and Steel-Pro. The two companies do not have a legally binding partnership, Mahon said, but work together on large international projects.

The 50-foot gas filter housing successfully passed a suspension test Nov. 8 before being shrink-wrapped and sent south. It will be installed more than 100 feet in the air in its new Colombian home during the fourth quarter of 2013, and operation training should begin early next summer.

Courier Publications reporter Bane Okholm can be reached at 594-4401 ext. 125 or by email at

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