April 26, 2011 at 12:05 pm #2296
Power cuts hit BP, Marathon, Valero Texas plants
By Erwin Seba Erwin Seba – 1 hr 18 mins ago
HOUSTON (Reuters) 04/26/11 – Refineries operated by BP Plc, Marathon Oil and Valero Energy Corp accounting for a combined 765,000 barrels of oil a day have been disrupted by power outages in Texas City, Texas, officials said.
BP’s 475,000 barrel per day (bpd) refinery in Texas City lost power Monday evening, sending local residents inside to avoid breathing smoke from the refinery’s flares.
Bruce Clawson, Emergency Management Director for Texas city said on Tuesday that Valero’s 214,00 bpd and Marathon’s 76,000 bpd refineries subsequently also lost power early Tuesday.
“There was like a lightning flash back where the plants are,” said Jennifer Reynolds, who lives in Texas City about 2 miles from the BP refinery. “The sky lit up from the flares. My lungs are burning. It smells awful.”
Flares are used to burn off hydrocarbons that can’t be processed normally in a refinery’s production units. Burning off the material in the flares prevents potentially deadly explosions. When in use, the flares can be very loud and produce heavy black smoke.
Texas City officials said some of the BP refinery’s units were shut, but BP declined to discuss the status of units at the refinery. A BP spokesman said no injuries had been reported due to the power outage, which also knocked out electricity at BP’s adjoining chemical plant. The cause of the outage was unknown.
BP “immediately called the city and declared a level 3 emergency,” said BP spokesman Michael Marr in a statement. “The city declared a shelter-in-place for its residents.” “I can confirm that we’ve had issues with power at Texas City,” said Valero spokesman Bill Day of his company’s refinery. “To what extent we don’t know yet.”
A Dow Chemical Co plant in Texas City is also shut due to power outages, said the plant manager, confirming an earlier local press report.
PNM Resources whose subsidiary Texas New Mexico Power supplies Texas City, said there were four faults on power lines between 9:30 p.m. and 11:30 p.m. local time (0230 and 0930 GMT). The utility said the faults all occurred on the customer side of the lines, meaning it was a failure of customer owned and operated equipment not the power company. Spokeswoman Cathy Garber said company policy prevented her from identifying the customer that had the problem.
BP’s Texas City refinery, the nation’s third largest, reported electrical power upsets in March and April prior to Monday night’s power failure. In February, BP said it would sell the refinery, which was the site of a deadly explosion in 2005 that killed 15 workers and injured 180 others, by the end of 2012.
The refinery faces continued scrutiny from the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration to correct problems found after the 2005 explosion. In August, BP paid a record $50.6 million fine to settle alleged safety violations found by OSHA.
That settlement came at the same time BP was under intense criticism for the 2010 Deepwater Horizon platform explosion which killed 11 workers and sent near 5 million barrels of crude oil into the Gulf of Mexico .
The London-based energy giant is working to resolve another $30.7 million in fines sought by the federal work safety agency for alleged safety violations at the refinery. BP has promised to spend $500 million between 2010 and 2016 to improve safety at the refinery.
The Texas Attorney General has sued BP for pollution from the refinery during a 40-day release in April and May of 2010 that sent 500,000 pounds of pollutants into the air. The April-May 2010 release is the subject of a $10-billion federal class-action lawsuit brought by refinery workers and Texas City residents.
April 29, 2011 at 11:32 am #5125
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)
April 29, 2011 at 11:37 am #5124
All these refiners need relook at change-over that was made in mid 1980’s and rethink!
They all went from steam recips to electric pumps/turbines (major drivers on Crude/Vac/FCC units) due cheap electric & rising NG prices and made the decision they could save lot money from boilers/water/steam cost and that any major unit down would likely pull down whole refinery…….and so now any bump does put whole plant offline.
All the Hurricanes showed that only plants with own/partial ownership in nearby Cogen/Pwr Plant would come back online quickly after major storm hit. Even on once/4 years thats big hit on cost & if you figure its at least 4 times over 20 year life plant – its big cost starting point.
This news item shows BP Tx City with big cogen so not sure why it is waiting for 2nd redundant power line source to startup?
All this made more relevant with US at todays $4/MMBTU (compared to EU’s $9/MMBTU) Nat Gas cost for alternate fuel to Cogen with 2nd stage Gas Turbines (could switch to NG in emergency).
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