Marathon Shuts Hydrocracker, Alkylation Unit at Galveston Bay Refinery for Overhaul

Reuters, June 1, 2020

Marathon Petroleum Corp shut the hydrocracker (HCU) and alkylation unit at its 585,000 barrel-per-day (bpd) Galveston Bay Refinery in Texas City, Texas, last week as part of a multi-unit overhaul, said sources familiar with plant operations.

Marathon spokesman Sid Barth declined to comment.

The 60,000-bpd hydrocracker, called Ultracracker 4, and 31,500-bpd alkylation unit were shut along with a sulfur recovery unit and a 47,500-bpd aromatics recovery unit, the sources said.

The first units shut were the 65,000-bpd Ultraformer, as the reformer is called, a 60,000-bpd residual oil hydrotreater and an aromatics unit, the sources said. The first shutdowns began on Saturday, May 23rd.

The overhaul is expected to be completed as early as mid-July, but may extend through August 1st. Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the overhaul has twice been delayed from an initial start date scheduled in late March.

Hydrocrackers use a catalyst under high heat and pressure in the presence of hydrogen to produce diesel from gas oil along with other motor fuels. Alkylation units convert refining byproducts into octane-boosting components added to gasoline.

Reformers also convert refining byproducts into components used to boost octane in gasoline through a different process from that in reformers. Hydrotreaters use hydrogen to reduce sulfur in motor fuels in compliance with U.S. environmental rules.

(Reporting by Erwin Seba; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama and Diane Craft)

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