Exxon's Baton Rouge refinery puts off possible shutdown: sources

Reuters, August 17, 2016

ExxonMobil Corp on Wednesday put on hold a contingency plan to shut its Baton Rouge, Louisiana refinery after it managed to start a liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) processing unit in the adjoining chemical plant, sources familiar with plant operations said.

An Exxon spokesman declined to comment.

"Contrary to some reports, the ExxonMobil Baton Rouge Complex is operating," company spokesman Todd Spitler said in an email. "It is our practice not to comment on specific unit operations at our facilities. We do expect to meet contractual commitments."

Normally, the 502,500 bpd Baton Rouge refinery sends LPG to the Sorrento, Louisiana Storage Facility where it is kept underground in salt dome caverns until needed. Flooding forced the closure of the facility over the weekend, said the sources, who requested anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly about the matter.

The floods, centered on the Baton Rouge area, have claimed at least 11 lives and forced thousands of people from their homes.

On Tuesday, Exxon shut a 110,000 bpd crude distillation unit at the refinery to reduce LPG production and the company was prepared on Wednesday to shut the refinery if the chemical plant unit could not be started, the sources said.

The chemical plant unit will process the LPG produced by the refinery, the sources said. The refinery's production level is down to about 60 percent of capacity.

In addition to the chemical plant unit shut on Tuesday, Exxon cut production on a 210,000 bpd CDU in half for maintenance planned prior to the floods, the sources said.

Two other chemical plant units at the refinery have a combined capacity of 180,000 bpd. The units do the initial refining of crude oil coming into a refinery and provide feedstock for all other units.


(Reporting by Erwin Seba; Editing by Richard Chang)

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