Lyondell Houston SRU power outage triggers flaring: sources

HOUSTON (Reuters) - A power outage on a sulfur recovery unit at Lyondell Basell Industries’ 263,776 barrel per day (bpd) Houston refinery on Tuesday morning triggered the plant’s safety flare system and an erroneous report of a fire to a Houston community information line, said Gulf Coast market sources.

This is the second malfunction reported this week at the refinery, which has three production units shut due a fire and leaks.

No injuries were reported from the brief power outage on the SRU Tuesday morning, the sources said. There are three sulfur recovery units at the refinery.

A Lyondell spokeswoman said the erroneous message about a fire was corrected as soon as it was discovered. The company reported the power blip to local community information phone line, but did not say what unit was involved.

On Monday a piece broke off a pump, triggering the release of a large cloud of propane from the Butane Recovery Unit at the refinery, the sources said.

Lyondell told the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality that a failed flange connection on Unit 234 to the release of 21,100 pounds of propane and 63,700 pounds of propylene into the atmosphere between 3:45 and 5:07 a.m. CDT (0445-0607 EDT) on Monday.

The Lyondell spokeswoman said the company was investigating the leak on Unit 234. There was no impact on operations at the refinery from the leak, the company said.

The refinery was ramping up production after the restart on Sunday of a vacuum distillation unit attached to the larger of two crude distillation units at the refinery.

The 91,000 bpd VDU attached to the 147,000 bpd Unit 537 CDU was shut on April 15 to repair leaks from piping and pump problems.

That outage followed the April 11 shutdown of the 120,000 bpd Unit 536 CDU and its attached 91,000 bpd VDU to repair similar problems.

A fire broke out on the refinery’s 42,000 bpd coking unit on April 8. There were no injuries due to the blaze, which sent a large plume of smoke across southeast Houston. The coker is expected to be shut for at least three months to repair piping, which is thought to have failed.

A 57,000 bpd coker remains in operation at the refinery.

Reporting by Erwin Seba; Editing by Meredith Mazzilli, Phil Berlowitz and Bernard Orr