LyondellBasell's Houston Refinery Returns to Normal Operations

Reuters, August 11, 2016

LyondellBasell Industries returned its 263,776 barrel per day Houston refinery to normal operations on Wednesday, one day after a power interruption on a unit cut production in half, sources familiar with plant operations said.

A Lyondell spokeswoman on Wednesday declined to discuss operations at the refinery.

The sources said the refinery's output had been at full capacity when the sulfur recovery unit lost power on Tuesday afternoon, but production was cut, amid worker evacuations and orders to shelter in place, to about half capacity following the power interruption.

Due to the quick restart of the SRU, the refinery's production is expected to return to full capacity within a few days, the sources added.

Last month, the company said the refinery's production averaged 73 percent of capacity during the second quarter as Lyondell performed extensive repairs to a coking unit damaged in an April 8 fire. It also said the refinery was not able to run at full production until the coker restarted on July 15.

Flaring from the refinery lasted for about eight hours beginning at 2 p.m. CDT (1900 GMT) on Tuesday, the sources familiar with the plant's operation said.

In a notice filed by the refinery on Wednesday with the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, Lyondell said an estimated 592,500 pounds of sulfur dioxide and 6,400 pounds of hydrogen sulfide were released into the atmosphere during flaring from the refinery.

The Houston Ship Channel was shut for about 20 minutes on Tuesday afternoon so the crew of a ship on the waterway north of the Lyondell refinery would not be exposed to the facility's hydrogen sulfide release, the U.S. Coast Guard said.

A sulfur recovery unit extracts sulfur from hydrogen sulfide removed from motor fuel feed stocks in compliance with U.S. environmental rules.


(Reporting by Erwin Seba, editing by G Crosse)

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