April 16, 2013 at 3:19 pm #1694
UPDATE 2-Fire at Total unit as Port Arthur refineries lose power
* Multiple unit shutdowns seen at three refineries
* Valero says power restored to production units (Recasts, adds details)
By Erwin Seba
HOUSTON, April 14, 2013 (Reuters) – A power outage hit three refineries in Port Arthur, Texas, causing a fire at Total Petrochemicals plant and shutting multiple units at Motiva Enterprises refinery, the nation’s largest, according to the companies and Genscape.
The power outage led to a fire in a vacuum distillation unit at Total’s 232,000 barrel per day (bpd) Port Arthur refinery, a company spokesman said. The fire was extinguished. Multiple units went into emergency shutdown at the refinery, according to a regulatory notice the refinery filed with Texas regulators.
A 325,000 bpd crude distillation unit at Motiva’s 600,000 bpd Port Arthur refinery was shut along with the 88,000 bpd gasoline-producing fluidic catalytic cracking unit and 95,000 bpd coker, according to energy intelligence service Genscape.
A Motiva spokeswoman declined to discuss which units were affected by the power outage at about 9:35 a.m. CDT (1435 GMT). No injuries were reported.
The three refineries in Port Arthur have a combined crude oil throughput of 1.12 million bpd, or 6.32 percent of national crude oil refining capacity.
Valero Energy Corp said its 290,000 bpd Port Arthur refinery was also affected by the power interruption.
“It was isolated and power has been restored to production units,” said Valero spokesman Bill Day. “At this time it does not appear that there will be a material impact to production.”
Genscape said a 75,000 bpd crude distillation unit and a 72,500 bpd vacuum distillation unit were shut at the Valero refinery due to the outage while a 100,000 bpd coker, 80,000 bpd FCCU and a 45,000 bpd hydrocracker were operating at reduced production levels.
A spokesman for regional electricity provider Entergy Texas said power restored at about 1 p.m. CDT on Sunday.
The exact cause of the outage has not been determined, said Entergy spokesman David Caplan. A substation north of Port Arthur, which is 90 miles (144 kilometers) east of Houston, shut down after an electrical arc was seen on Sunday morning.
A total of 17,000 residential customers also were affected by the outage.
Motiva is a 50-50 joint venture between Royal Dutch Shell Plc and Saudi Aramco.
A vacuum distillation unit boosts the yield a refinery can realize from a barrel of crude oil by refining in a vacuum material an atmospheric crude distillation unit, which does the initial refining of oil, cannot convert into feedstock for units that produce motor fuels.
A coker increases the amount of refinable material from a barrel of crude and converts residual crude oil into petroleum coke, a coal substitute.
A hydrocracking unit boosts the production of motor fuel by refining feedstocks under high pressure in the presence of hydrogen.
(Reporting by Erwin Seba; Editing by Theodore d’Afflisio and Diane Craft)
April 16, 2013 at 5:51 pm #4504
Here is update on the power outage that hit all 3 major Pt Arthur Coking Refineries that totaled some 1.12 million BPD of capacity (6.3% US Refining capacity). It is thought a substation north Pt Arthur had arc and then shutdown on Sunday leading to the refinery problems, although power was restored on Sunday.
The combination of power outages & hurricane damage continues to make good case for on-site power generation for refiners (lost production revenue/ect because only those with power were able to restart in the Gulf in less than 30 days after Hurricane’s Katrina/Ike/ect.
April 16, 2013 at 6:07 pm #4503
Thanks, I have been wondering how seriously this will affect production, since I hear it will take at least several days for some of them to get back up.
Thanks for the update,
April 16, 2013 at 6:24 pm #4502
Fires are always a danger & sometimes its hard to identify if it has comprimised metallurgy of pipes/units. And of course just the process off shutdown & startup adds risk threats because its the most dangerous time in any refinery and rife with opportunity for errors/failures. Poor Motiva they just got the large Crude unit replaced / started up and then the small Crude unit back online & here they have crash & startup again.
Any outage during peak gasoline season is often lost production because the only time make-up capacity is afterwards and then its fall & balance against inventory build and staying online thru winter to prepare for the next gasoline season.
Nearly 60% US gasoline is consumed in Summer at peak driving season and its normally just at or /outside full utilizations so that it takes either an inventory build (after switching from larger difference between summer & winter blends these days) or imports.
Another problem from environmentalist/EPA/Liberal regulations is that state by state specifications -often (some 39 states w/out refining or just enough for 1 city) who’s liberal regulations have closed or ran off capcaities placing them on pipeline supplies and casualty of next gulf hurricane closure problem. East & West Coast plants are study in this sort stupidity.
Read about Chevron Richmond that is getting killed for old units with lack investment/maintenance in Calif ……. although there has been roadblock against any new refineries for ~40 years and New Source treats replacement/new units as though was new plant …..same permit roadblock. And meanwhile all capital for maintance is stole by new emissions regulation investments that produce no increased revenues.
Watch the coming supply crisis for East & West Coast when next Hurricane hits Gulf (avg 1 per 4 yrs) and +60% US supply goes offline – sort like the mini issue here with Pt Arthur this week.
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