Exxon ok's project to nearly double size of Texas refinery

HOUSTON (Reuters) - Exxon Mobil Corp has given final approval to an expansion that would nearly double the size of its 365,000 barrel-per-day (bpd) Beaumont, Texas, refinery that could make it the largest in the United States, said two people familiar with the company's plans.

The largest U.S. oil producer has been considering a third processing unit at the plant since at least 2014.

The approval to add 250,000-350,000 bpd of new refining capacity authorizes financing for equipment needed to convert shale crude from Exxon's West Texas oilfields into precursors for gasoline, diesel, jet fuel and other refined products.

Exxon aims to triple its daily crude production in the Permian Basin of West Texas and New Mexico to 600,000 barrels of oil equivalent (boepd) by 2025.

Last year it agreed to form a joint venture with Plains All American Pipeline LP that would build a pipeline able to carry 1 million bpd of oil to its refineries in Baytown and Beaumont.

"It has been approved," said one of the people familiar with the refinery expansion. Employees have been asked to keep the approval confidential, said the person, who could not be identified because of the restrictions.

Exxon spokeswoman Sarah Nordin said on Monday she had no updates on the status of the project. In October, she had confirmed that site preparation work had begun in advance of a final decision. (Reporting by Erwin Seba, editing by G Crosse and Marguerita Choy)

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