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Motiva shuts Port Arthur olefins plant ahead of storm

August 26/2020

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Motiva Chemicals at Port Arthur, Texas, began shutting down light olefin operations Monday to prepare for the arrival of Tropical Storm Laura, reported Chemweek with reference to the company's statement in a midday report to the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality.

Emissions from the controlled shutdown of the olefins unit are seen lasting five days, according to the filing.

Motiva filed a similar shutdown report on Monday covering its nearby oil refinery at Port Arthur, with a capacity of 607,000 b/d the largest refinery on the Gulf Coast and in the US. Emissions from the refinery shutdown are seen lasting two days, the filing says.

ExxonMobil was also reportedly considering a precautionary shutdown of its 369,024-b/d refinery at nearby Beaumont, Texas, and Total's 225,500-b/d Port Arthur refinery was reported to have begun taking operating rates to minimum levels to weather the storms. Market talk about Valero's 335,000-b/d Port Arthur refinery included accounts of both shutdown and no plans for shutdown.

In response to OPIS queries about the reports, ExxonMobil said only that it was preparing for severe weather, and downstream operations are currently normal. A Total spokesperson declined to comment on operations at the refinery.

Reports of slackening refinery operations bolstered US Gulf Coast spot gasoline values and extended the nearly 5-cents/gallon lift of October RBOB futures, the reference month for Gulf Coast spot trading.

Tropical Storm Marco, closing in on southeastern Louisiana as of 14.00 ET, was weakening, the National Hurricane Center (NHC) reported. Maximum sustained winds were at 40 mph and all tropical storm warnings and watches had been discontinued. Total rain accumulations were seen at 2-4 inches, with isolated maximums of 7 inches possible across parts of the northeast and north-central Gulf Coast through Tuesday.

Tropical Storm Laura, still in the Caribbean, is being more closely watched due to NHC forecasts for intensification to hurricane strength. According to Jeff Masters, a meteorologist whose blog appears on the Yale Climate Connections website, Laura could make landfall along the Texas or Louisiana coastlines as a Category 2 or stronger hurricane. In addition, the storm "will likely grow into a larger-than-average storm capable of generating a very large storm surge," he wrote in a Monday post.

Refiners in or near the path of Tropical Storm Laura represent the country's largest concentration of crude oil processing. The 26 refineries can process a total of 7,359,375 bbl of crude per calendar day, or 39.5% of total US capacity. Capacity by region is 2,474,846 b/d for the New Orleans area; 813,500 b/d in western Louisiana; 1,536,524 b/d in Beaumont/Port Arthur; and 2,534,505 b/d in the Houston area.

Phillips 66's Sweeny refinery in Texas and its plants at Belle Chasse and Lake Charles, Louisiana, "continue with their hurricane planning processes," based on the current path projections of the storms, the company said in an emailed statement to OPIS. "At this time, there is no impact on refinery operations nor other assets in the Gulf Coast region," the statement said.

CITGO made a similar statement about its Gulf Coast operations, which include a 167,500-b/d refinery at Corpus Christi, Texas, and a 418,000-b/d refinery at Lake Charles.

OPIS notes that the 135,500-b/d Calcasieu Refining plant in the Lake Charles region was idled at the beginning of August for at least one month due to fuel demand significantly weakened by fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Further downstream, Placid Refining notified customers that the Opelousas Buckeye terminal would close the rack at midnight Monday ahead of Tropical Storm Marco. Another Placid notification went out regarding product unavailability at the Phillips 66 Lake Charles terminal beginning at noon on Wednesday "in anticipation of hurricane impacts." Downtime of 24 hours was expected, depending on damage and power availability.

As MRC informed previously, in late 2019, Motiva Enterprises acquired 100% of Flint Hills Resources chemical plant, adjacent to its Port Arthur, Texas, oil refinery. The Flint Hills plant operates a 1.57 billion-pound-per-year ethylene cracker, a unit producing nylon component cyclohexane, and a network of pipelines and storage caverns. Saudi Aramco, in its IPO prospectus, said the cash payment will be determined as per the project value at SAR 7.13 billion (USD1.9 billion).

Ethylene and propylene are feedstocks for producing PE and polypropylene (PP).

According to MRC's DataScope report, PE imports to Russia dropped in January-June 2020 by 7% year on year to 328,000 tonnes. High density polyethylene (HDPE) accounted for the main decrease in imports. At the same time, PP imports into Russia rose in the first six months of 2020 by 21% year on year to 105,300 tonnes. Propylene homopolymer (homopolymer PP) accounted for the main increase in imports.

Motiva Enterprises, LLC, is a fully owned affiliate of Saudi Refining Inc. and headquartered in Houston, Texas, United States with revenue of USD24 billion. Previously, it was a 5050 joint venture between Shell Oil Company (the wholly owned American subsidiary of Royal Dutch Shell) and Saudi Refining Inc. (controlled by Saudi Aramco).
Author:Margaret Volkova
Tags:PP, PE, crude and gaz condensate, homopolymer PP, propylene, HDPE, ethylene, petrochemistry, Citgo petroleum corporation, Exxon Mobil, Flint Hills Resources, Motiva Enterprises, Phillips 66, Total Petrochemicals, Valero, Russia, USA.
Category:General News
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