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Motiva’s Port Arthur, Texas, refinery to shut big CDU in early September: sources

AUG 8, 2019

HOUSTON (Reuters) – Motiva Enterprises [MOTIV.UL] plans to shut the big crude distillation unit (CDU) at its 607,000 barrel-per-day (bpd) Port Arthur, Texas, refinery, the nation’s largest, by Sept. 5 for a 60-day overhaul, said sources familiar with plant operations.

In addition to the 325,000-bpd VPS-5 CDU, Motiva plans to shut the naphtha processing complex, which includes the 115,000-bpd naphtha hydrotreating unit 2 (NHTU2), 85,000-bpd catalytic reformer 5 (CRU 5) and 50,000-bpd isomerization unit for the work, scheduled to finish by Nov. 5, the sources said.

Motiva issued a statement saying that it declined to comment.

While the other units are shut, Motiva has also has scheduled a 10-day shutdown of the 105,000-bpd hydrocracking unit 2 (HCU 2), according to the sources.

VPS-5, the NPC and HCU 2 were all added to the refinery during a five-year, $10 billion expansion that finished in 2012, more than doubling the capacity of the Port Arthur plant.

Some of the work on VPS-5 will include replacement of piping damaged in early June 2012, the sources said.

About six weeks after starting up for the first time, the unit was shut for a week to repair a leak. During the restart in June 2012, thousands of gallons of caustic sodium hydroxide were unknowingly vaporized, causing widespread chemical corrosion and forcing VPS-5 to be shut for seven months of repairs.

The damage to VPS-5 was a factor that led to the split-up of Motiva by co-owners Royal Dutch Shell Plc and Saudi Aramco in 2017. Motiva is now a subsidiary of Aramco.

VPS-5 is the largest of three CDUs at the refinery doing the primary breakdown of crude oil into hydrocarbon feedstocks for all other production units as well as making unfinished motor fuels. The other two CDUs will remain in operation.

Hydrotreaters remove sulfur from motor fuels and their feedstocks in compliance with U.S. environmental rules.

Reformers convert low-octane refining byproducts into high-octane components that are blended into gasoline.

Isomerization units also convert byproducts into components blended into gasoline.

Hydrocrackers convert gas oil into motor fuels, primarily diesel, which is one of the most lucrative products made by U.S. Gulf Coast refiners.

Reporting by Erwin Seba; Editing by Leslie Adler and Lisa Shumaker


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