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Limetree Bay oil refinery suspends production after fire, oil release

May 17/2021

MOSCOW (MRC) -- The troubled Limetree Bay oil refinery in St. Croix, United States Virgin Islands, has suspended operations after a malfunction sent oil raining onto a nearby neighborhood, reported Reuters with reference to the company"s statement.

The Caribbean refinery has suffered repeated setbacks since its private-equity owners began overhauling the long-idled facility two years ago with a plan to process up to 210,000 barrels of oil per day.

Limetree Bay said it suffered an "upset in the refinery", and urged residents living near the plant not to drink water from collected supplies. Residents living in the island generally collect rainwater in cisterns for consumption.

Residents were alerted of a fire at the plant by the V.I. Territorial Emergency Management Agency on Wednesday.

The company said it plans to distribute water to those affected by the oil release, and added that the plant"s processing units will be brought to a "safe, stable condition". Flaring, or emergency burning of feedstocks, caused oil to release onto neighborhood areas. A malfunctioning coker unit caused the flaring, according to two people familiar with the matter. Cokers convert heavy oil for feedstocks to make motor fuels.

As MRC informed earlier, in early May, the EPA said if it determines that Limetree"s operations present an "imminent risk" to residents health, it would take appropriate action to safeguard the public. EPA sent air monitors to the island in the first week of May to measure sulfur dioxide and hydrogen sulfide emissions, though they are not functional as yet.

Meanwhile, Limetree Bay said air quality testing near its US Virgin Islands refinery found zero concentrations of sulfur dioxide, hours after the National Guard said it found elevated levels of the chemical during its own testing.

We remind that in late March 2021, EPA said it had revoked an expansion permit for the Limetree Bay oil refinery in the US Virgin Islands, citing concerns that the area around the facility is overburdened with pollution. The decision allowed the plant to keep operating but blocked ongoing expansion work pending an EPA review to assess measures the facility needs to take to protect nearby residents.

Ethylene and propylene are the main feedstocks for the production of polyethylene (PE) and polypropylene (PP), respectively.

According to MRC"s ScanPlast report, Russia"s estimated PE consumption totalled 576,270 tonnes in the first three month of 2021, up by 4% year on year. Low density polyethylene (LDPE) and high density polyethylene (HDPE) shipments increased. At the same time, PP shipments to the Russian market totalled 410,890 tonnes in January-March 2021, up by 56% year on year. Supply of homopolymer PP and PP block copolymers increased.

Author:Margaret Volkova
Tags:PP, PE, crude and gaz condensate, PP block copolymer, homopolymer PP, propylene, LDPE, HDPE, ethylene, petrochemistry, Russia, USA.
Category:General News
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