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Total's Port Arthur refinery reformer, SRU shut by fire; no injuries reported

Photo courtesy of Total SA.

(Reuters) Total SA shut a reformer, sulfur recovery unit and a pressure swing adsorption unit at the company's 225 Mbpd Port Arthur, Texas, refinery after a small fire Tuesday, said sources familiar with plant operations.

A company spokeswoman said in an emailed statement that "at approximately 3:56 p.m. (CDT 2056 GMT), an operational upset occurred within the Port Arthur Refinery."

The company activated its emergency response team and the affected units were shut down, said Total spokeswoman Melyssa Rodgers.

"No employees or contractor personnel were injured and there was no offsite impact."

According to the sources, the 35 Mbpd reformer lost its supply of feedstock and then developed a leak, which led to the fire. The small blaze was quickly put out, but employees were warned by sirens to shelter in place.

Following the reformer fire, a leak developed on Sulfur Recovery Unit 3 and it was shut as well as the PSA unit.

The all-clear signal was sounded at about 4:30 p.m. CDT.

The reformer converts low-octane naphthas into higher octane components that are blended into gasoline.

A sulfur recovery unit extracts sulfur from hydrogen sulfide taken from motor fuel feedstocks in compliance with US environmental rules.

Pressure swing adsorption units are used to extract hydrogen sulfide hydrogen streams.

This is the fourth fire at a Gulf Coast crude oil facility since Thursday. Three fires have been at refineries and the fourth was at a crude oil terminal.

Reporting by Erwin Seba; Editing by Sandra Maler and Cynthia Osterman

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