26 April 2011 16:38 [Source: ICIS news]
HOUSTON (ICIS)--Three refineries and one chemical complex were coping on Tuesday with a widespread power outage that struck Texas City in Texas on Monday night.
A shelter-in-place order for Texas City had been lifted early on Tuesday but a second shelter-in-place order was issued a few hours later.
Dow Chemical’s Texas City operations were hit by the outage.
BP’s 475,000 bbl/day refinery in Texas City also lost power.
All units at Texas City have been shut down safely,” said BP spokesman Daren Beaudo. “There were no reported injuries.”
Beaudo added, “The cause of the power failures is unknown at this time. There is no current estimate when the plant will restart.”
The BP facility is the third-largest refinery in the US.
Valero spokesman Bill Day said all main production units at the company’s 214,000 bbl/day refinery “were shut down in an orderly fashion”.
Day said that no injuries were reported at the 214,000 bbl/day Valero refinery, and there was no estimate for when the units would be restarted.
Marathon spokesman Shane Pochard said the company’s 76,000 bbl/day refinery “experienced a power dip last night”. He said workers were attempting to bring the affected units back on line.
Dow’s Texas City operations also temporarily lost power, “resulting in the orderly shutdown of the site’s eight manufacturing units”, said Dow spokesman Greg Baldwin.
“We currently have power at the facility and are currently waiting for the citywide shelter in place to be lifted to begin restarting the manufacturing units. There have been no injuries or offsite impact at the Dow facility.”
Dow's Texas City operations are owned and operated by Union Carbide, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Dow.
Sources said all three refineries were expected to be back on line within 48 hours.
The outage originated when the plants' equipment started failing on Monday at 21:30 hours Texas City time (2:30 hours GMT), said Cathy Garber, spokeswoman for Texas New Mexico Power, the utility company that provides electricity to the plants and refineries in Texas City.
Altogether, the utility company noted four failures on the customer side, Garber said. Texas New Mexico Power did not identify the customers because regulations prohibit it from doing so.
When such failures occur, the utility company automatically cuts power to the customers, Garber said. This is intended to isolate any problems and to prevent them from spreading further, causing a larger outage.
Texas New Mexico Power does not know what caused the equipment failures at the plants, she said.
However, a possible cause of the failures is the drought that is affecting the region, Garber said.
Texas City is on the Gulf coast. As a result, water vapour from the Gulf of Mexico comes onshore.
As the vapour evaporates, it leaves salt on the surface of equipment, she said. Normally, rain would wash away the salt deposits.
Because of the drought, the salt may have remained on the equipment and that could have caused the equipment to fail, she said.
(Additional reporting by Al Greenwood and Brian Ford)
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