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(Adds details about expansion projects)
HOUSTON, Sept 26 (Reuters) - Valero Energy Corp, the largest U.S. refiner, plans to increase light crude oil processing capacity at several U.S. Gulf Coast refineries through 2018, the company said in an investor presentation.
Valero is moving forward with the projects to increase light crude processing capacity because of ever-growing Texas output that increasingly reaches U.S. Gulf Coast refineries.
In 2015, Valero will start up new crude "topping units" at its 88,000 barrel-per-day (bpd) Houston refinery and its 200,000 bpd Corpus Christi, Texas, refinery that will come online in 2015, the company said.
The units will help both plants run more lighter crude to maximize the production of gasoline and diesel.
Valero is also evaluating low-cost projects to unlock light crude capacity at its 290,000 bpd Port Arthur, Texas, and 125,000 bpd Meraux, Louisiana, refineries.
The company also has plans to expand hydrocrackers at the Port Arthur, Meraux and 205,000 bpd St. Charles, Louisiana, refineries, the presentation said.
Valero started up new 60,000 bpd hydrocrackers at the St. Charles and Port Arthur in July 2013 and December 2012, respectively. The expansions, delayed to 2018 from 2015, would add 15,000 bpd of capacity to each, Valero said.
The Meraux hydrocracker expansion would add 20,000 bpd in early 2015 to increase distillate yields. (Reporting by Kristen Hays; Editing by Gerald E. McCormick)