Exxon eyes crude unit restart at Louisiana refinery this week

Exxon Mobil Corp has made preliminary plans to restart the large crude distillation unit (CDU) at its 502,500 barrel-per-day (bpd) Baton Rouge, Louisiana, refinery later this week, sources familiar with plant operations said.

Most of the refinery’s units, including the three CDUs, were shut early on Wednesday after a natural gas line in a group of pipes caught fire late on Tuesday night, the sources said. The fire is contained but continued to burn on Wednesday morning in the pipeline area.

No injuries were reported from the fire, Exxon said earlier on Wednesday. A company spokesman said Exxon would continue to meet its contractual commitments.

The 210,000-bpd PSLA-10 CDU is the largest of three at the refinery doing the primary conversion of crude oil into hydrocarbon feedstock for all other production units.

An assessment of the damage to the bundle of pipelines where the fire is burning has yet to be done, the sources said.

One of the two 110,000-bpd gasoline producing fluidic catalytic cracking units (FCCUs) continues to operate at the minimal production level while one of the light ends units is also in operation at minimum rates, the sources said.

The Baton Rouge refinery is the second-largest in Louisiana and the fifth-largest in the United States by capacity. It is Exxon’s second-largest refinery in the nation.

Reporting by Erwin Seba; Editing by Louise Heavens and Paul Simao

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