Two Houston area refineries reduce runs

Two Houston area refineries were operating at reduced capacity Monday after Tropical Storm Allison flooded the upper Texas Gulf Coast over the weekend. The Lyondell-Citgo Refining facility is running at half its 272,000 b/d capacity, while the Shell Deer Park refinery had reduced throughput by 20,000 b/d.


Sam Fletcher
OGJ Online

HOUSTON, June 11 -- Two Houston area refineries were operating at reduced capacity Monday after Tropical Storm Allison flooded the upper Texas Gulf Coast over the weekend.

Officials at Lyondell Chemical Co. are investigating the cause of a small flash fire in one of the coker units at the Lyondell-Citgo Refining facility that injured three workers and left that plant operating at half-capacity late Saturday.

Two employees were treated and released at a local hospital, but a third was airlifted to a burn center in Galveston after the flash fire occurred about 7 p.m. Saturday. However, company officials reported Monday that those injuries are not life threatening and that the employee is recovering.

The refinery was running at half of its rated capacity of 272,000 b/d on Monday. Lyondell officials said they do not know how long it will take to get the plant back to full operation.

Lyondell said its olefins and polymers plants in nearby La Porte, Tex., were shutdown briefly during the storm but are now back to normal operations.

Shell Oil Co.'s Deer Park refinery was running at "slightly reduced" rates of 320,000 b/d, down from 340,000 b/d, but was expected to back to normal late Monday, officials said.

"We were slightly off of full capacity when the storm began and decided to give ourselves a little cushion through the storm," said Shell representative David McKinney.

The only storm damage was to the plant's docks where workers were trying to restore electric power Monday.

"The oil dock is in service and the finished products docks are expected to return to service over the next few days, with full service by Thursday," McKinney said. Meanwhile, he said, the refinery can still ship its gasoline through pipeline with no major disruptions.

The Houston Ship Channel was reopened to ship and barge traffic Monday after being closed over the weekend because of storm conditions. Traffic on the channel through which many refined products are shipped was reported to be moving slowly while still monitored and controlled by the US Coast Guard.

The storm caused major flooding of streets and highways around Houston over the weekend and was blamed for 17 deaths. Total damage is estimated in billions of dollars. As a result, Harris County and several adjoining counties have been declared disaster areas by government officials.

Contact Sam Fletcher at Samf@OGJonline.com

More in Petrochemicals