Initial construction work on the refinery began on 1 October 1952, when subcontracts were let for fencing the site and for preliminary scrub clearing and road building. Within six months, the area was cleared and levelled, roads completed and temporary buildings to enable construction installed.
Excavation work for the refinery began, and cement was poured in April 1953. By the middle of that year, 1,000 men were employed on the site. The first refinery unit was installed in September. Work on the permanent buildings—offices, laboratories, etc.—began at the end of 1953.
As work progressed, the number of workers increased to a peak of more than 3,000. In both London and New York more than 500 engineers and draughtsmen laboured to produce more than 10,000 blueprints.
The Premier, Sir Ross McLarty, had turned the first turf on 29 January 1953, and almost exactly two years later the refinery had been completed.