HOUSTON (Reuters) - Restarting Exxon Mobil Corp’s 502,500 barrel-per-day (bpd) Baton Rouge, Louisiana, refinery after an early morning fire will depend on how quickly natural gas supply can be restored to the crude distillation units (CDUs), said sources familiar with plant operations.
The fire broke out in a natural gas pipeline supplying the units before midnight on Tuesday, the sources said. The fire was put out on Wednesday morning, the company said. No injuries were reported.
Exxon had made preliminary plans to restart the Baton Rouge refinery’s large CDU, the 210,000 bpd PSLA-10, before the fire was extinguished, the sources said. The unit cannot be restarted until the natural gas supply is restored.
Most of the refinery’s units, including the three CDUs, were shut early on Wednesday, the sources said.
Exxon spokesman Jeremy Eikenberry declined on Wednesday to discuss the status of units at the refinery. He did say operations were continuing at the refinery and adjoining chemical plant.
Eikenberry also said Exxon would continue to meet its contractual commitments.
The 210,000-bpd PSLA-10 CDU is the largest of three at the refinery doing the primary conversion of crude oil into hydrocarbon feedstock for all other production units. The natural gas is used to operate the units as they breakdown crude oil.
One of the two 110,000-bpd gasoline producing fluidic catalytic cracking units (FCCUs) continues to operate at a minimal production level while one of the light ends units is also operating at minimum rates, the sources said.
The Baton Rouge refinery is the second-largest in Louisiana and the fifth-largest in the United States by capacity. It is Exxon’s second-largest refinery in the nation.
Reporting by Erwin Seba; Editing by Paul Simao and Lisa Shumaker