April 9, 2018 / 1:16 PM / 17 days ago

Total Port Arthur gasoline unit may restart by midweek: sources

HOUSTON (Reuters) - Total SA may restart the gasoline-producing unit at its 225,500-barrel-per-day (bpd) Port Arthur, Texas, refinery by midweek, Gulf Coast market sources said on Monday.

The Port Arthur refinery’s two crude distillation units (CDUs) were in operation by Monday night, but were running at reduced production levels, the sources said.

A leaking pipe on the 76,000-bpd gasoline-producing fluidic catalytic cracking unit (FCCU) forced the unit’s shutdown on Saturday, according to the sources.

The FCCU provides steam used in refining processes and to operate machinery to several units in the refinery.

Also shut on Saturday were the 40,000-bpd CDU, the smaller of two at the refinery, the 51,000-bpd vacuum distillation unit (VDU), the 5,000-bpd alkylation unit, a sulfur recovery unit, hydrotreaters and petrochemical processing units.

The adjoining BASF SE petrochemical plant was restarting co-generation units that had been shut for a planned overhaul to provide steam to the Total refinery, according to the sources.

The smaller CDU was back in operation by Monday night, the sources said.

Total declined to comment on refinery operations.

Once the FCCU restarts and steam supply is restored, Total can begin restarting the other units, the sources said.

The leak was under insulation on a pipe on the FCCU, which may have been caused by corrosion, the sources said.

A leak under insulation on a pipe led to a large fire on a CDU at Chevron Corp’s Richmond, California, refinery in 2012, the U.S. Chemical Safety Board determined in an investigation. The Chevron Richmond leak was caused by corrosion.

CDUs do the primary refining of crude oil and provide hydrocarbon feedstock from all other units. VDUs take residual crude oil from CDUs and refine it at vacuum pressure.

Alkylation units convert refining byproducts into octane-boosting components blended into gasoline.

Hydrotreaters extract hydrogen sulfide from motor fuels in compliance with U.S. environmental rules. Sulfur recovery units extract sulfur from hydrogen sulfide.

Reporting by Erwin Seba; Editing by Steve Orlofsky and Peter Cooney

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