Shell Deer Park Crude Unit to be Shut at Least a Week: Sources

Reuters, August 18, 2017

Royal Dutch Shell Plc expects the large crude unit at its 325,700-barrel-per-day (bpd) Deer Park, Texas, refinery joint-venture to be shut for at least a week of repairs following a fire on Thursday, sources familiar with plant operations said. Production on the refinery's gasoline-producing unit and coking unit have been cut back due to the crude unit's outage, the sources said. The 270,000 bpd DU-2 crude distillation unit (CDU) was shut on Thursday by a fire on its vacuum unit, according to a regulatory filing.

The fire, which began shortly before 8 a.m. CDT (1300 GMT), forced workers at the sprawling complex housing the refinery to take shelter, where they remained for more than an hour while Shell stabilized the refinery's operations, the sources said. No injuries were reported and all personnel were accounted for, Shell spokesman Ray Fisher said.

CDUs are the work horses of the refinery, doing the refining of crude oil coming into the refinery and providing feedstock for all other production units. The 70,000 bpd gasoline-producing fluidic catalytic cracking unit and 92,000 bpd coker were running at reduced production levels due to reduced feed supply, the sources said. DU-2's 115,000-bpd VF-2 vacuum distillation unit, where a release of residue triggered the blaze, was also shut, according to a regulatory filing, which confirmed an earlier report by energy industry intelligence service Genscape. The Deer Park refinery also has a 70,000 bpd CDU.

Vacuum distillation units increase the yield from a barrel of oil by refining residual crude produced by a CDU at vacuum pressure. Cokers further refine residual crude, increasing the yield of refinable material or converting it to petroleum coke, which can be used as a coal substitute. The Deer Park refinery is co-owned by Shell and Petroleos Mexicanos (Pemex), Mexico's national oil company.

(Reporting by Erwin Seba; Editing by Lisa Shumaker and Leslie Adler)

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