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Valero again suspending refinery in Aruba

Another Caribbean refinery able to run heavy, sour crude oil will cease operation.

Citing “unfavorable refinery economics and the outlook for continued unfavorable refinery economics,” Valero Energy Corp. said it will halt crude runs at month’s end of its 235,000 b/d facility in Aruba.

Valero’s move follows by 2 months the announcement by Hovensa LLC, a joint venture of Hess Corp. and Petroleos de Venezuela SA, of closure of the 350,000 b/d refinery at St. Croix, VI (OGJ Online, Jan. 18, 2012). Hovensa will operate the facility, capacity of which had been reduced from 500,000 b/d, as a terminal.

Valero bought the Aruba refinery in 2004 from El Paso Corp. for $465 million (OGJ Online, Feb. 5, 2004). Signs of trouble appeared in 2009, when the company idled the facility because of poor economics. Operations resumed late in 2010 after a turnaround.

Valero said it has been operating the refinery at reduced rates and at a financial loss. While holding open the possibility of a restart, it said it is considering converting the refinery to a terminal.

Built in 1929 by Standard Oil, it was shut down in 1985 by Exxon Corp. and restarted in 1990 by Coastal Corp., which became part of El Paso.

The refinery yields distillate products and intermediate feedstocks.

Processing capacities at Aruba include 68,400 b/d of delayed coking, 30,600 b/d of visbreaking, and 214,200 b/d of catalytic hydrotreating. The location has two deepwater marine docks able to service ultralarge crude carriers and storage capacity of 12 million bbl.

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