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Texas refineries restarting, Lake Charles plants expected to take longer

The five Texas oil refineries shut ahead of Hurricane Laura are all planning to restart soon, although the two major refineries near Lake Charles, Louisiana, are expected to take much longer as they deal with widespread power outages and potentially more serious storm damage.

ExxonMobil, Valero Energy, and Total confirmed Aug. 28 that the storm only had a minor impact on their Beaumont and Port Arthur refining complexes in Texas near the Louisiana state line and that they were all preparing to restart. A similar timeline is expected with the Motiva Port Arthur Refinery, while the Chevron Pasadena Refinery was already gearing up to restart.

The startups of the Citgo and Phillips 66 refineries in Lake Charles, where Laura made a direct hit, likely will drag on, with hundreds of thousands of people without power and extensive wind and rain damage throughout the region.

Citgo CEO Carlos Jorda said in an Aug. 28 statement that its 425,000 b/d, Lake Charles Refinery sustained damages from Laura’s winds, but that there were no safety or environmental issues. While Citgo doesn’t have a set timeline, repairs and restarts could take weeks.

“A detailed assessment, which will take a number of days to complete, is currently underway, as are plans to repair the damage,” Jorda added. “Citgo cannot issue a restart schedule until the assessment is complete, but the company does not expect an immediate restart.”

In addition to its own Lake Charles Refinery, Phillips 66 also had closed its Beaumont terminal.

“Facility assessments are underway at all impacted locations and will likely take several days,” Phillips 66 said in a statement Aug. 28. “Timelines for operational restarts are largely dependent on assessment impacts and access to electricity and other utilities in the region.”

More than 2.3 million b/d of refining capacity was taken offline in advance of Laura’s landfall, including 674,000 b/d in Lake Charles.

US Department of Energy Secretary Dan Brouillette said in a call Aug. 27 he was “very happy” with initial damage reports seeming “relatively light” at refineries and other energy infrastructure. Brouillette said about 20,000 utility workers from 27 states are being deployed to Louisiana to help restore power “very, very quickly.”

Still, even the timing for refinery restarts even in Texas is dependent on the recovery of the Beaumont-Port Arthur region around them.

“Our initial assessment of our Beaumont area facilities revealed the need for only minor repairs, and we have begun restart activities,” said ExxonMobil spokesman Jeremy Eikenberry. “Timing on when operations can resume to normal will largely depend on the availability of power, product transportation infrastructure, and the reopening of the Sabine Neches Waterway.”

Likewise, Valero is following suit with its Port Arthur Refinery.

“There is no visible damage to the refinery from the storm,” Valero spokeswoman Lillian Riojas said. “Our next assessment phase continues as we restart utilities and begin preparing for a safe and controlled refinery restart.”

And Total referred to its initial damage assessments in Port Arthur as “positive.”

“The refinery’s management and teams on the ground are taking measures to safely work towards restarting operations,” said Total spokeswoman Marie Maitre.
Source: Platts

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