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Motiva may restart Port Arthur unit in December

Posted on October 5, 2012 at 4:00 pm by Bloomberg

Motiva Enterprises plans to restart a damaged 325,000-barrel-a-day crude unit at its Port Arthur refinery as early as the first week in December, according to people familiar with refinery operations.

Motiva expects to complete repairs on the unit this month and conduct test runs and pressure checks in November, said the people, who declined to be identified because they are not authorized to speak for the refinery.

Motiva said on July 19 that it expected to restart the crude unit early in 2013. The restart has been accelerated because of steady progress in the repairs, the people said.

The crude unit started operating in May. It was shut on June 3 after an inspection found it “had been accidentally contaminated with high levels of caustic,” or sodium hydroxide, which caused corrosion and cracked stainless steel pipes and other areas, the company said at the time.

The crude unit, the largest of three at the plant, is the centerpiece of a $10 billion expansion that was to push the refinery’s crude processing capacity to close to 600,000 barrels a day of crude oil, making it the largest in the U.S.

All seven of the other units installed during the expansion, including a 95,000-barrel-a-day coker and a 75,000- barrel-a-day hydrocracker, are running, although they all will not operate at full rates until the crude unit is repaired, the people said.

Motiva is a refining and marketing joint venture of Saudi Refining, a subsidiary of Saudi Arabian Oil Co., and Shell Oil Co., a unit of Royal Dutch Shell.

The Port Arthur plant produces gasoline, aviation fuel, diesel, industrial fuel oil and petrochemical feedstocks, according to Motiva’s website. At full capacity, the expanded refinery will be able to produce 240,000 barrels a day of gasoline and 190,000 barrels a day of diesel, according to Motiva.

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