September 12, 2017 / 12:38 AM / in 8 months

Total Port Arthur refinery may be shut for weeks by plugged pipe: sources

HOUSTON (Reuters) - Total SA’s 225,500-barrel-per-day Port Arthur, Texas, refinery may be shut for weeks because an Aug. 30 power outage during Tropical Storm Harvey caused crude oil to plug a key pipeline, Gulf Coast market sources said on Monday.

The pipeline carries sour crude to the refinery’s two crude distillation units (CDUs) and was shut by the power outage in the early morning of Aug. 30. The pipe then was cooled by 20 inches (50 cm) of rain, the sources said.

“There was no way to flush it after the power went out,” one of the sources said of the pipe.

A Total spokeswoman did not immediately reply to a request for comment. Earlier on Monday, the company said it did not have a restart date for the refinery.

Total was working to reopen the line on Monday, the sources said. If the line reopens, Total may be able resume production more quickly at the refinery.

The refinery’s 76,000-bpd gasoline-producing fluidic catalytic cracking unit was also shut by the power outage and portions of it are now plugged by catalyst, the sources said.

The CDUs do the initial refining of crude oil coming into the refinery and provide feedstocks for all other production units in the plant.

Reporting by Erwin Seba; Editing by Sandra Maler and Peter Cooney

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