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TotalEnergies Port Arthur Refinery Shuts Crude Units on Malfunction

The TotalEnergies refinery in Port Arthur, Texas, has been forced to shut down its two crude distillation units and two vacuum distillation units, due to a malfunction at the gasoline-producing unit, sources with knowledge of the refinery operations have told Reuters.

After a malfunction at the gasoline-producing fluidic catalytic cracker (FCC) at the 238,000 barrel-per-day refinery, the plant shut down on Thursday the two crude distillation and two vacuum distillation units, according to Reuters’ sources. Those units convert crude into feedstock for all other units at the refinery.  

Earlier this week, sources familiar with the refinery operations told Reuters that the small crude distillation unit at the refinery was operating at a reduced production level.

The 76,000-bpd gasoline-producing fluidic catalytic cracker 2 (FCC-2) at the refinery continued to operate at reduced rates. TotalEnergies carried out a three-month-long overhaul at the FCC-2 which was completed at the end of November.  

In the middle of December 2023, the small crude distillation unit was still shut three weeks after the overhaul was completed, sources with knowledge of the refinery’s operations told Reuters at the time.

This week, TotalEnergies notified the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) on Thursday that the malfunction at the gasoline-producing cracker began on Wednesday afternoon and continued until Thursday morning. During that period, steam use and production were reduced. In the same notice to the environmental authority, TotalEnergies said that FCC-2 had returned to normal operations. 

Port Arthur is one of TotalEnergies’ largest refining and petrochemicals platforms. To scale up its petrochemical operations in the United States and gain further market share, TotalEnergies invested in 2017 in significantly increasing its ethylene production capacity by using abundant and cheap U.S. ethane. The Port Arthur site has a refining production capacity of 185,000 barrels per day (bpd). The complex also features a 1 million metric ton/year steam cracker through a joint venture with BASF.  

By Charles Kennedy for Oilprice.com


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