FCCU at Marathon's Galveston Bay Refinery May Be Shut Up to 8 Weeks for Repairs

Reuters, July 12, 2019

The gasoline-producing unit at Marathon Petroleum Corp’s 585,000-barrel-per-day (bpd) Galveston Bay Refinery in Texas City, Texas, may remain shut for two to eight weeks for repairs, sources familiar with plant operations said on Thursday. The 140,000-bpd gasoline-producing Fluidic Catalytic Cracking Unit 3 (FCCU 3) was shut on June 29 to repair a leak, the sources said.

The refinery’s 65,000 bpd reformer, called Ultraformer 4, is also shut down, according to the sources. A Marathon spokesman was not immediately available to discuss operations at the refinery, which is the second-largest in the United States and the largest the company owns.

To repair the sour water stripper, which removes ammonia and hydrogen sulfide discharged by FCCU 3, Marathon may have to rebuild a needed transformer, which could take eight weeks, the sources said. If a replacement can be purchased, the repairs may only last two weeks.

If they find one they can buy, it will be about two weeks before they can start again,” one of the sources said. “The transformer they need is hard to get.”

FCCU 3 was originally shut on June 29 to repair a leak in the regenerator section of the unit.

FCCUs are divided into two sections. In the reactor section, the fine powder catalyst mixes with gas oil under high heat and pressure to convert the gas oil into unfinished gasoline. The catalyst then goes to the regenerator section to have excess carbon removed so it can be recycled into the reactor.

When FCCU 3 was shut in late June, the key naphtha desulfurization unit (NDU) was also shut. The NDU, which removes sulfur in compliance with U.S. environmental rules, has restarted.

The reformer converts low-octane naphthas into octane-boosting components blended into gasoline.

(Reporting by Erwin Seba; Editing by Sandra Maler and Grant McCool)

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