HOUSTON (Reuters) - LyondellBasell Industries was restoring production at its 263,776 barrel per day (bpd) Houston refinery after a midday power interruption robbed the plant of steam supply on Thursday.
“Operations impacted by the power interruption from the external electrical and steam supplier have resumed,” Lyondell spokeswoman Faye Eson said in an emailed statement.
A single turbine producing steam was restarted mid-afternoon by supplier Calpine Corp, said a Calpine spokesman.
Three Gulf Coast market sources said the refinery’s two crude distillation units were operating at mininum levels and a plan was being developed to restart the 90,000 bpd gasoline-producing fluidic catalytic cracking unit over the weekend.
Each of the two CDUs was operating between 80,000 and 90,000 bpd. The larger of the two crude units has a capacity of 147,000 bpd and the smaller’s capacity is 120,000 bpd.
Lyondell hopes the refinery will reach a total crude throughput above 70 percent of capacity by sometime Friday, the sources said.
The timing of the FCCU’s return may depend on the restart of a second steam-producing turbine, so the unit has redundant supply, according to the sources.
Eson said no injuries were reported at the refinery due to the loss of steam, which powers turbines, compressors, and for the flare system.
A thick plume of black smoke, visible 10 miles away, streamed from the refinery for about two hours after the steam loss.
Eson said initial air testing showed “no level of concern for the surrounding community.”
Before the steam loss, the refinery had been at reduced production levels since Wednesday, when the 42,000 bpd coking unit was shut to replace piping on the unit that may be subject to corrosion, the sources said.
Thursday was the second time this month Lyondell had to contend with an unplanned interruption.
A power outage at the sulfur recovery complex on Aug. 9 triggered 12 hours of flaring at the refinery that released 592,500 pounds of sulfur dioxide, according to a regulatory notice.
CDUs do the initial refining of crude oil coming into the refinery and provide feedstock for all other units. Cokers boost the yield of refinable material taken from barrel of oil and convert residual crude to petroleum coke.
Reporting by Erwin Seba; Editing by Jonathan Oatis and David Gregorio