By BARBARA POWELL
Citgo Petroleum's only crude unit at its refinery in Lemont, Illinois, is listing and initial assessments indicate it may have sustained extensive damage in a fire Oct. 23, said two people familiar with plant operations.
The fluid catalytic cracker and one side of the coker are shut, said the people, who asked not to be identified because the information isnt public. The alkylation unit is operating while output at other downstream units, including hydrotreaters, is reduced, they said.
The refinery provides gasoline and diesel to Chicago and the upper Midwest.
The Lemont refinery is a significant supplier of both gasoline and diesel fuel into the Chicago market, said Andy Lipow, president of Lipow Oil Associates in Houston. A lengthy shutdown would require supplies being made up by Gulf Coast refineries.
The crude unit, whose capacity matches that of the 170,500-bpd refinery, is visibly leaning, the people said. The Oct. 23 fire occurred while a malfunctioning pump was being replaced, the people said.
A report filed with the National Response Center dated Oct. 24 said there was a spill of vacuum tar bottom, a raw material used in making bitumen.
Fernando Garay, a spokesman for Citgo in Houston, said Thursday in an e-mail that refinery operations have been significantly reduced while some downstream units were operating. He said the company didnt have a schedule for when the crude unit would be operational.
He did not issue an update Friday and did not immediately respond to an e-mail seeking comment on refinery operations.