Motiva finds chemical leak to CDU of expanded Port Arthur refinery


Motiva Enterprises again will have to shut down a crude distillation unit at its expanded refinery segment in Port Arthur, Texas, that had been restarted following six months of repairs, a person familiar with the refinery operations said Tuesday.

Motiva originally commissioned the CDU - the first step in the oil refining process - in May as the culmination of a $10 billion refinery expansion project that added 325,000 bpd of capacity and made the refinery the largest in the US.

The unit was shut down days after following a chemical leak into the CDU that corroded much of its piping.

After six months of repair, Motiva began the restart process of the CDU last week but shut it down after a small mechanical fire started at the unit. Workers have now found evidence of chemicals once again leaking into the unit, the person said. 

Repairing the unit will keep it idle until Friday or Saturday, the person added.

The Port Arthur refinery has a total capacity of 600,000 bpd, making it one of the 10 largest in the world. Motiva, a partnership of Saudi Arabian Oil Co. and Royal Dutch Shell, is still able to operate the original refinery segment. 

Motiva will still produce fuels using other units at the refinery, said company spokeswoman Kimberly Windon.

"While this unit is an important part of the Motiva Port Arthur Refinery operations, we continue to operate other units within the refinery, making gasoline and other products to meet customer needs," Ms. Windon said.

Dow Jones Newswires

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