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Shell to Shutter Convent Gasoline Unit in Early ’18-Sources

HOUSTON — Royal Dutch Shell Plc plans to begin permanently shuttering the gasoline-producing unit at its 227,586 barrel-per-day (bpd) Convent, Louisiana, refinery in January 2018, said sources familiar with the company’s plans on Thursday.

Shell has rescheduled planned repairs on the heavy-oil hydrocracking unit from spring 2018 to summer of that year, the sources said.

The company plans to overhaul the Convent refinery’s alkylation unit in October of this year, according to the sources.

Shell spokesman Ray Fisher declined on Thursday to discuss maintenance plans at the Convent refinery.

“Shell routinely plans maintenance on its assets in an effort to ensure we continue to operate in a safe and reliable manner,” Fisher said.

Plans were laid as early as 2014 to idle the 92,000 bpd gasoline-producing fluidic catalytic cracking unit at the Convent refinery because it was seen as unprofitable as opposed to the 45,000 bpd heavy-oil hydrocracker, which is called the H-Oil Unit.

Decommissioning the FCCU is part of Shell’s plans to link the Convent refinery with the company’s 225,800 bpd refinery in Norco, Louisiana. Gas oil from the Convent refinery used to make gasoline will be sent to the Norco refinery.

It will take a year to fully decommission the Convent FCCU. The initial work will run from January to March, according to the sources.

The H-Oil unit had a lengthy recovery from an Aug. 11, 2016 fire. It was idle for three and a half months and ran at half capacity for another three and a half months before again being idled by a March 18 fire that broke out during an attempt to restart the unit at full capacity.

The H-Oil Unit returned to production at full capacity on May 23.

The 16,500 bpd alkylation unit will be shut for a-four-week overhaul beginning in October, the sources said.

In recent years, Marathon Petroleum Corp and Valero Energy Corp have decommissioned FCCUs at refineries in Texas and Louisiana, respectively.

(Reporting by Erwin Seba; Editing by Leslie Adler, Bernard Orr)

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