March 18, 2020 / 10:11 PM / 11 days ago

Lyondell Houston refinery sends most contractors home to cut virus risk: sources

HOUSTON (Reuters) - Lyondell Basell Industries’ Houston refinery sent home hundreds of contractors this week to reduce the risk of coronavirus spreading in the plant, Gulf Coast market sources said on Wednesday.

Remaining contractors are focused on inspecting then repairing the shut gasoline-producing unit, the sources said. Lyondell-employed maintenance workers were not affected by the reduction.

There was no indication any of the contractors were infected with the coronavirus, which is responsible for more than 8,000 deaths and 200,000 cases worldwide.

The refinery’s production level was not affected by the reduction in the contractor workforce, the sources said.

Lyondell did not reply to a request for comment.

Contractors are employed by companies that Lyondell hires to perform maintenance in the refinery. Generally, contractors perform much of the maintenance in U.S. refineries.

About 500 contractors were released from work at the 263,776 barrel-per-day (bpd) Houston oil refinery, the sources said. Lyondell employee engineers and administrative staff are working from home.

The 90,000-bpd gasoline-producing fluidic catalytic cracker (FCC) was shut by a Feb. 16 fire, which revealed cracks in the unit’s reactor.

Repairs to the FCC are expected to last through April, the sources said.

Reporting by Erwin Seba; Editing by Sandra Maler and Diane Craft

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