Lyondell Houston Refinery may restart crude unit by end of week

18 May 2010 17:33  [Source: ICIS news]

Houston RefineryHOUSTON (ICIS news)--LyondellBasell expects a crude distillation unit (CDU) at its Houston Refinery in Texas to be operating by the end of the week following a fire, the company said on Tuesday.

A fire on Monday shut down a CDU, an essential unit to initially process crude oil, while the refinery's other CDU has been idle for maintenance.

Teams at LyondellBasell are entering the burnt CDU today to assess the damage and conduct an investigation, said David Harpole, spokesman.

Harpole said it was premature to discuss a timeline for the unit's return to operation and too early to offer indications of what caused the fire.

The company is scheduled to begin work today to restart the refinery's other CDU.

"We are targeting having that unit in full service by the end of the week," Harpole said.

Meanwhile, the 268,000 bbl/day refinery has conversion units that can produce limited amounts of gasoline and fuel products using other intermediates and feedstocks at the refinery, he said.

"We continue to produce gasoline but not at full rates," Harpole said.

Harpole did not provide any details on the fire's impact on production of jet fuel, olefins feedstocks, aromatics and base oils.

A spokesperson for Calumet, a company that markets the base oils produced at the Houston refinery, said the fire did not disrupt any lubricant production. However, there may be a one-day precautionary delay on rail car and truck shipments from Houston.

Lyondell will communicate with customers on an individual basis, Harpole said, and would not discuss the status of supplying its customers.

"We generally don't discuss that level of detail," he said.

Houston Refinery outside of Pasadena, Texas is one of North America’s largest refineries processing heavy, high-sulphur crude oil. The refinery turns the crude into heating oil, jet fuel, olefins feedstocks, aromatics, lubricants and petroleum coke, according to LyondellBasell's website.

Additional reporting by Heather McGuire Doyle

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