Shell Plans to Complete Convent Refinery Shutdown in 10 days

Reuters, December 4, 2020

Royal Dutch Shell Plc plans to complete the permanent shutdown of its 211,146 barrel-per-day (bpd) Convent, Louisiana, refinery within 10 days, sources familiar with the company’s plans said. Shell spokesman Curtis Smith declined on Thursday to comment on the company’s timeline for idling the refinery.

Shell has been unable to sell the refinery since putting it on the auction block in July. The plant became unprofitable in March as fuel demand was hammered in the COVID-19 pandemic. Shell said on Nov. 5 it would shut the refinery.

Shell began shutting production unit at the refinery on Sunday, idling on Monday night the 12,000-bpd isomerization unit, the sources said. The 30,000-bpd diesel hydrotreater was brought down on Thursday.

Shell is in the process of shutting the 45,000-bpd heavy oil hydrocracker, called the H-Oil Unit, which converts residual crude oil into diesel fuels, the sources said. Before the pandemic, the H-Oil Unit was one of the most profitable units at the refinery.

The 92,000-bpd gasoline-producing fluidic catalytic cracker (FCC) is scheduled to be taken down over the weekend, according to the sources. Shutdowns of the alkylation unit and reformer will follow along with hydrotreaters next week, the sources said.

Among the last units to be shut are the light ends section of the small crude distillation unit and the entire large crude distillation unit (CDU), according to the sources. Most of the 100,000-bpd CDU was shut on April 21, but a light-ends section has continued to operate, the sources said. It will be shut next week. The 130,000-bpd CDU will also be shut next week, the sources said. The CDUs convert crude oil into feedstocks for all other production units at the refinery.

The last units go out of production are the sulfur recovery units, according to the sources.

(Reporting by Erwin Seba; Editing by Chris Reese and Leslie Adler)

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