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Gas Prices Stable as Largest US Oil Refinery Partially Closes After Fires

Hugh Pickens DOT Com (2995471) writes | about a year ago

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Hugh Pickens DOT Com (2995471) writes "Joao Peixe reports in the Christian Science Monitor that since undergoing a $10 billion expansion, the the 600,000 barrel a day Royal Dutch Shell's Motiva oil refinery in Port Arthur, Texas, has experienced a long line of incidents, the latest being a fire which has forced it to reduce production output by a half, for at least two weeks. One week ago the facility suffered from a fire in the sulphur recovery unit, forcing a closure and reducing production. The sulphur unit will undergo repairs, and is expected to go back into operation in two or three weeks. But a second fire, which began on Saturday, broke out in a hydrocracker unit next to the refinery`s largest crude distillation unit (CDU), known as the VPS-5. "Maybe it was cursed," says a veteran Gulf Coast products trader about Motiva's struggles. "I think people are not surprised by problems there." A source with knowledge of the incident told Reuters that the fire damaged communication lines and instrumentation needed to run the 75,000 bpd hydrocracker, but its production sections were unharmed. Refinery managers admitted that “it was a bad weekend for us. We're all feeling snake-bit. It just seems like we get up and going and then something else goes wrong." The good news is that the US Gulf Coast is so well supplied with motor fuels that wholesale gasoline and diesel prices in the region moved only modestly on Motiva's latest woes. Inventories are close to their highest levels in two decades in the region, which has close to half of all U.S. refining capacity, as other refiners run nearly full bore to reap profits from exports that make up for softer US demand."

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