Exxon's Baton Rouge refinery shuts small crude unit: sources

FILE PHOTO: FILE PHOTO: A logo of the Exxon Mobil Corp is seen Rio de Janeiro, Brazil September 24, 2018. REUTERS/Sergio Moraes/File Photo/File Photo

HOUSTON (Reuters) - Exxon Mobil Corp closed a small crude distillation unit (CDU) at its 502,500-barrel-per-day (bpd) Baton Rouge refinery in Louisiana due to low demand, sources familiar with plant operations said on Monday.

To balance the shutdown of the 90,000-bpd PSLA-7 CDU, Exxon plans to boost production on the 210,000-bpd PSLA-10 CDU, the largest at the refinery, sources said. Overall refinery production will be about 420,000 bpd.

Exxon spokesman Jeremy Eikenberry declined to discuss the level of production at the Baton Rouge refinery. However, he said the refinery was still operational and meeting contractual commitments.

Exxon cut the production at the refinery by 62,500 bpd on March 21 because of demand destruction as Americans stay at home to stop the spread of the coronavirus.

After shutting PSLA-7 and boosting throughput on PSLA-10, production at the refinery will be down an additional 20,000 bpd, sources added.

There are two 90,000 bpd CDUs at the refinery. The 90,000-bpd PSLA-8 CDU remains operational as does the 110,000 bpd PSLA-9, according to the sources.

At the Baton Rouge refinery, the restart of 78,000-bpd catalytic reformer continued on Monday, the sources said. The unit had been shut since a Feb. 12 fire idled the entire refinery.

CDUs do the primary breakdown of crude oil into hydrocarbon feedstocks for all other production units at the refinery. There are four CDUs at the Baton Rouge refinery.

Reformers convert refining byproducts into octane-boosting components blended into gasoline.

Reporting by Erwin Seba, Editing by Chizu Nomiyama, Jonathan Oatis and Sherry Jacob-Phillips