Premcor upgrades Port Arthur refinery

Premcor Inc. (formerly Clark Refining Holdings Inc.), St. Louis, Mo., has successfully tested the rated crude oil throughput capacity at its Port Arthur, Tex., refinery, almost a month after a fire shut down the crude distillation unit for a week. The crude distillation unit was recently boosted to 250,000 b/d capacity from 232,000.


Premcor Inc. (formerly Clark Refining Holdings Inc.), St. Louis, Mo., announced Monday that it has successfully tested the rated crude oil throughput capacity at its Port Arthur, Tex., refinery, almost a month after a fire shut down the crude distillation unit for a week. The crude distillation unit was recently boosted to 250,000 b/d capacity from 232,000.

Premcor said June 18 the expanded crude distillation unit was down as a result of the fire. One employee had to be treated for heat exhaustion in the incident.

The refinery underwent a 33-day maintenance turnaround in April and early May, during which capacity was upgraded. Premcor spokeswoman Suzanne Miller said production had not yet reached the nameplate capacity of 250,000 b/d when the fire occurred subsequently, but a test has now shown oil throughput can reach that capacity.

The capacity increase is part of Premcor's $835 million heavy oil coker upgrade project at the refinery, allowing the plant to process heavy, sour crude oil, said a statement. Changes and adjustments made to other units are a key part of the larger project that will enable the refinery to run a lower-cost crude slate once the heavy oil upgrade project is completed in November.

The project is more than 85% complete and is on time and on budget, says Premcor. The project will become fully operational early in 2001.

Premcor said it may be able to use the increased distillation capacity before the completion, depending on market conditions. Affiliates of Blackstone Group own about 80% of Premcor, and Occidental Petroleum Corp. owns 19%.

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