Motiva celebrates completion of big refinery expansion in Port Arthur

PORT ARTHUR — With the ceremonial opening of a valve Thursday, Motiva, a joint venture of Royal Dutch Shell and Saudi Aramco, celebrated the completion of a five-year construction project doubling the capacity of its Port Arthur refinery.

When working at its peak, the Port Arthur refinery will be able to process 600,000 barrels of crude oil a day, making it the largest refinery in the United States.

“With the completion of this massive expansion, the Port Arthur Refinery alone would be capable of meeting the entire gasoline demand of France, Italy or all of Scandinavia,” said Khalid Al-Falih, CEO of Saudi Aramco, at the ceremony. He said the project was the largest single expansion of US refining capacity in four decades.

The expanded refinery is designed to process a range of crudes, enabling it to produce gasoline, ultra low sulfur diesel, jet fuel, as well as petroleum coke, sulfur and petrochemical feedstocks.

Al-Falih estimated that the expansion cost $10 billion, an investment that Shell and Saudi Aramco say will pay off because of the refinery’s capacity to diversify among refining products, depending on market conditions.

Royal Dutch Shell CEO Peter Voser emphasized that this flexibility will help the refinery weather changing conditions in the refinery industry, even as refineries on the East Coast face difficult times.

“The industry needs to build more efficient, flexible, integrated refineries,” Voser said. “Part of the problem is that some refineries are unsuitable for processing more difficult crude, on which supply increasingly depends.  They are in the wrong places making the wrong products.”