A second load of oil-refinery “modules” left Brewer in mid-June, bound for the Gulf of Mexico. Built at the Cianbro Corporation’s Eastern Manufacturing Facility in Brewer, the four modules were loaded onto a barge that was to be towed 2,300 miles to the Motiva refinery in Port Arthur, Texas.

The barging is by Columbia Coastal Transport, aboard the company’s 250-foot Columbia Boston, towed by the tugboat Emma Ross.

The modules left Brewer on June 12. The crew skipped a planned layover in Searsport that evening, and re-rigged the lines to the barge in Penobscot Bay to keep going, according to Scott Clements, project manager, in a Cianbro blog entry. The tugboat and barge was in the Cape Cod Canal June 13. By June 18 the barge was beyond Vero Beach, Fla. The average speed up to that point of the trip was between 9.2 and 10.4 knots.

An earlier barge load of modules traveled the same route back in March under difficult weather conditions, and was forced to put into port several times. That trip took 26 days. Cianbro officials said they didn’t anticipate similar difficulties for the June shipment and that they expected it to reach Texas in a shorter time.

The moduless-“heavy duty industrial steel frames filled with pipes, pumps and electronics,” according to the Bangor Daily News, can be six stories tall and weigh 700 tons. They’re too big to travel by road or rail, making barge transportation the best feasible alternative.

Cianbro was hired by Motiva Enterprises LLC to build a total of 53 refinery modules to be shipped to Texas over the next year.

Some of the traffic in the transaction between Motiva and Cianbro has been two-way, the Bangor Daily News reported: after delivering the first load in March, the barge and tug returned to Maine from Port Arthur with two 80,000 pound temperature controlling pressure vessels that will be installed in future modules now under construction.

Cianbro, which several years ago built other oil industry-related structures on the Portland waterfront, set up its Brewer site at the location of the former Eastern Fine paper mill for the purpose of building the modules. The company now employs about 400 skilled workers in Brewer and another 70 or so at a pipe making plant in Bangor. Cianbro is based in Pittsfield, Maine.

The Brewer facility is one of four nationwide that are making modules for an expansion at the Motiva refinery, which will double its output when finished in 2010 or 2011. Brewer’s modules were the first to be shipped, according to Cianbro officials.