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Total completes deep conversion project work in Port Arthur, Texas

07.01.2011  |  DuBose, Ben ,  Hydrocarbon Processing Staff, Houston, Texas

Three-year, $2.2-billion refinery project includes 50,000-bpd coker, 55,000-bpd vacuum distillation unit and the 64,000-bpd distillate hydrotreater

Keywords: [Total] [refinery] [crude oil] [construction] [deep conversion] [transportation fuels]

Total has completed a three-year, $2.2 billion expansion of its refinery in Port Arthur, Texas, with all new units successfully started and onstream (Fig. 1). The deep conversion project included a 50,000-bpd coker, 55,000-bpd vacuum distillation unit (VDU-2) and 64,000-bpd distillate hydrotreater (DHT-3) (Fig. 2). The units expand the company’s ability to process heavy and sour crude oil and produce cleaner transportation fuels, such as ultra-low-sulfur diesel (ULSD), officials said.


  Fig. 1. Total’s refinery complex in Port Arthur, Texas. 


  Fig. 2. Petroleum coke is produced when the
  delayed coker is in operation and is cut from 
  the unit’s coke drums every 18–20 hours,
  producing about 2,000 tpd of coke. The coke is
  sent to a dock via a conveyer and is sold as an
  industrial fuel. 

What it means.

“Having the ability to access what the market gives you on raw materials is very important,” said Darrell Jacob, refinery manager for Total in Port Arthur. “This project gave us the access to a much wider range of crudes. “As far as ultra-low-sulfur diesel, that’s what the transportation fuels market demands,” he added. The expansion will allow the refinery to produce 3 million tons more of ULSD for automotive use, Jacob noted (Fig. 3).

  Fig. 3. The new distillate hydrotreater
  produces ULSD, which is a more
  environmentally friendly fuel. 

Milestone for Total.

Michel Benezit, an executive vice president for France-based Total and president of refining and marketing, called it an important milestone for Total’s downstream operations, also noting that the new production was more environmentally-friendly. “It allows us to adjust to a changing crude market and gives us more flexibility in supply,” said Benezit. “Refineries have to be flexible in the purchase of crude and the changing specifications.”

Benezit attended a ceremony in Port Arthur on May 5 to inaugurate the facility’s improvements, which also included a coker naphtha hydrotreater, hydrogen purification unit and sulfur recovery units. In addition, Total said the power supply of the refinery was modernized during the expansion when it was connected to a new 230kV network. That has revamped or affected nearly every other process unit in the refinery, officials said.

Petrochemical options.

The company noted that the Port Arthur refinery’s integration with its adjacent joint venture (with BASF) petrochemical plant would offer “additional market opportunities” to maximize profits. Officials did not comment on whether they were considering an expansion of that facility. Petrochemical producers such as Dow Chemical and LyondellBasell said in recent weeks that they were considering expanding their US Gulf plants amid increased feedstock availability.

Construction details.

The Port Arthur deep conversion project was announced on Feb. 12, 2008, employing more than 17,000 construction workers throughout the project. Workers logged nearly 18 million work hours upon completion, exceeding 5-million safe work hours without a loss time incident on two separate occasions, the company said. Total officials said they recognized that work by awarding the refinery with its highest company safety award.

The Total Port Arthur refinery has a capacity of 232,000 bpd, according to the US Energy Information Administration (EIA), making it the 27th-largest in the US. HP

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Jerry Perez

I'm very proud to have played a role in this project. Each time I pass by the area and see the massive changes to the place I am thankful. I was involved in the construction materials testing from the site prep to VDU to green field and brown field areas. Thanks to all that helped.


It feels great hearing that TOTAL has completed DCP work at port arthur successfully. I have been the part of this project as an Employee of the Engineering Consultant(FLUOR) for TOTAL project. I really feels great to contribute a litte to this humungous project and it was absolutely a very enriching experience for me.

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