UPDATE 3-Power supply may delay BP Tex City restart-sources
* BP waiting for redundant power supply
* TNMP says working to prepare power line
HOUSTON, April 28, 2011 (Reuters) – BP Plc may delay restarting its 475,000 barrel-per-day (bpd) refinery in Texas City, Texas, until the weekend as work continues on the plant’s redundant electricity supply, according to sources familiar with refinery operations.
Electricity provider Texas New Mexico Power (TNMP), a PNM Resources subsidiary, said in a statement “we will have redundancy restored by this weekend for facilities that have experienced issues.”
BP had filed a notice with Texas pollution regulators saying the refinery could begin restarting a gasoline unit as early as Thursday with completion of the restart seen by May 2. BP had previously filed notices on Tuesday planning to begin the restart Wednesday.
TNMP declined to directly discuss power supply to the BP refinery, one of three in Texas City hit by a string of power outages Monday and Tuesday. The only refinery still waiting for a redundant power supply belongs to BP. The three refineries account for 4 percent of U.S. refining capacity.
A BP spokesman declined to discuss operations at the refinery, which was hit by a plantwide power outage on Monday. One transmission line segment in the Texas City area was not energized as of Thursday afternoon and expected to remain out of service for a few more days, said the Electric Reliability Council of Texas, (ERCOT) the grid operator for the state.
A redundant power supply means a facility has more than one transmission line to receive electricity in case a line goes down. There are two power lines that supply electricity to the BP refinery in addition to a giant in-house cogeneration plant.
BP would likely be able to complete the initial unit start-ups by May 2 even if the restarts doesn’t begin before the weekend, the sources said.
BP should be able to quickly restart because its steam production system stayed in operation throughout the power outage, meaning the refinery has kept production units at their high operating temperatures. Steam is also needed for the refining process itself.
Valero Energy Corp’s VLO.N 214,000 bpd Texas City refinery continued restarting on Thursday, the company said. The plant began its start-up on Tuesday.
Marathon Oil Corp’s 76,000 bpd Texas City refinery restarted on Tuesday and is operating normally. High-voltage power lines in the Texas City area, by TNMP and were plagued by problems related to a buildup of refinery byproducts on transmission equipment, exacerbated by a lack of rain in the area that normally removes the residue.
Part of the work continuing on the line to BP is cleaning the residue from the power lines. The line can’t carry power while the work is continuing. Preventive cleaning of power lines in Texas City will continue for two to three weeks will require shutting some power lines and substations down, TNMP said.
The BP refinery equals 2.7 percent of national capacity and is the third largest in the United States. The refinery accounts for one-third of BP’s U.S. refining capacity. (Additional reporting by Eileen O’Grady, Editing by Lisa Shumaker and Sofina Mirza-Reid)