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Key Gulf Coast Refineries Restarting as Crude Prices Increase

Reuters reported that the 636,500 bpd Motiva Enterprises refinery in Port Arthur, Texas, the largest refinery in the U.S., was beginning to restart production on September 11, for the first time since being shut down by Hurricane Harvey on August 30, said sources familiar with plant operations.

Liquefaction project along Sabine Pass between Texas and Louisiana, Many process units affected by flooding.

Liquefaction project along Sabine Pass between Texas and Louisiana, Many process units affected by flooding.

Motiva Enterprises restored the 325,000 VPS-5 crude distillation unit (CDU) at the Port Arthur facility to minimum production levels early in the day on September 11, the sources said. After bringing the CDU online, Motiva began restarting the 105,000-bpd Hydrocracking Unit 2 (HCU-2), according to the same sources. The 110,000 bpd coking unit was also ready to resume production after being placed on circulation in which this unit and the bespoke CDU and HCU-2 were at operating temperatures and circulating feedstock as of September 7, the sources said.

Apparently, once the facility was confident an adequate crude supply was available, normal operation could be restored and resume for the entire plant, according to the sources, which actually came to fruition on September 12. Oil prices rose on September 12 as other key U.S. refineries besides the Motiva facility began restarts following Hurricane Harvey. Crude prices rose even though Hurricane Irma is likely to clip demand for petrol and diesel. Major storms tend to cut down on driving, particularly as many cars have been destroyed.

Brent crude oil futures settled up 6 cents, or 0.1%, to $53.84 a barrel while U.S. West Texas Intermediate crude rose by 59 cents, or 1.2%, to $48.07. A quarter of U.S. refining capacity was taken off-line due to the flooding from Hurricane Harvey. Refining runs on the U.S. Gulf Coast hit a record low in the first week of September, just after the storm, due to the shutdowns.

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Posted by: Rene Gonzalez

Rene G Gonzalez is the Director for RefineryOperations.com and contributing editor for DownstreamBusiness.com. As a chemical engineer (Texas A&M University: 1982), Gonzalez has worked in various engineering capacities throughout the energy industry value chain, primarily in refinery processing and operations.

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