Shell's Convent Refinery Hydrocracker Shut; FCCU Down for 2 Weeks

Reuters, August 14, 2018

Royal Dutch Shell Plc’s 45,000 barrel-per-day (bpd) heavy oil hydrocracker at its Convent, Louisiana, refinery remained shut on Monday following a Sunday fire, sources familiar with plant operations said. Also, the refinery’s 92,000-bpd gasoline-producing fluidic catalytic cracking unit (FCCU) may be shut up to two weeks for repairs to a malfunctioning compressor, the sources said.

Shell spokesman Ray Fisher declined on Monday to comment on operations at the 209,787-bpd Convent refinery. On Sunday, Fisher said there were no injuries or offsite impact from the early morning fire at the heavy oil hydrocracker, called the H-Oil Unit.

Shell attempted to restart the H-Oil Unit late on Sunday, the sources said. The FCCU was completely shut for a planned overhaul from May 30 until Thursday, when workers were attempting to get products from the unit back into specification. A compressor on the unit began malfunctioning with excessive vibration, the sources said.

The H-Oil Unit is an atypical hydrocracker because it converts residual crude oil into motor fuels, especially diesel. Residual crude is normally processed by coking units. Hydrocrackers use hydrogen and a catalyst under high heat and pressure to produce motor fuels, usually starting with gas oil as a feedstock. FCCUs use a catalyst under high heat and pressure to convert gas oil into gasoline.

The planned overhaul on the FCCU is intended to keep the unit in operation for another five years. Until last year, Shell had planned to shutter the FCCU to reduce redundant operations at the company’s two refineries in Louisiana, which are to be linked by pipelines.

(Reporting by Erwin Seba; Editing by Paul Simao and Marguerita Choy)

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