Total Port Arthur, Texas, oil refinery cuts production to minimum: sources

HOUSTON (Reuters) - Total SA began cutting production to minimum levels at its 225,500-barrel-per-day (bpd) Port Arthur, Texas, oil refinery on Wednesday night because of the threat of an explosion at a nearby petrochemical plant, said Gulf Coast market sources.

Total spokeswoman Marie Maitre said there was no change in operations at the Port Arthur refinery, which is located about 4 miles (6.4 km) from a raging fire at the TPC Group petrochemical plant in Port Neches, Texas.

Government officials ordered a mandatory evacuation for all those within a 4-mile radius of the TPC plant after an afternoon blast sent a distillation unit hundreds of feet (dozens of meters) flying into the air, raising the possibility giant storage tanks may catastrophically explode.

The Total refinery is about 4 miles from the TPC plant.

At minimum rates, Total crude intake will be about 25% below capacity, the sources said.

Total refinery managers plan to review on Thursday morning the status of the blaze at the TPC plant, the sources said.

Maitre said Total continues to closely monitor the situation at the TPC plant.

Huntsman Corp shut a unit on Wednesday following the initial early morning explosion at the TPC plant, according to a notice filed with the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality.

The Huntsman plant is 1 mile (1.6 km) away from the TPC plant.

Reporting by Erwin Seba; Editing by Sandra Maler and Christian Schmollinger