Motiva Port Arthur Halts Crude Unit Start as Clamp Fails

By Dan Murtaugh

Jan. 7 (Bloomberg) — Motiva Enterprises LLC shut down the 325,000-barrel-a-day crude unit at the Port Arthur refinery days after trying to restart it when a clamp that was modified to fix an earlier leak failed.

The unit was shut safely after a small leak took place in the unit at about 2 p.m. Sunday, Kimberly Windon, a Houston- based spokeswoman for the refinery, said in an e-mail.

The unit was put on circulation at about 5 p.m. local time Sunday, said a person familiar with the situation, who asked not to be identified because he is not authorized to speak for the company. There is no timeline for another restart. When on circulation, the unit is kept running but no oil is processed.

“We anticipate making the necessary adjustments, repairs and returning the unit to normal operation in an expeditious manner,” Windon said. “We still expect for this unit to be fully re-started in the early part of this year.”

The crude unit has been idled since a Dec. 11 fire that was caused by a leak on the unit’s heater outlet. A second fire broke out Dec. 17 during an earlier attempted restart. The company attempted the most recent restart Jan. 3. Workers had modified a clamp to stop the original leak, and it would not hold, the person said.

The crude unit, the largest of three at Port Arthur, shut for repairs several days after its May debut. It’s a key part of a $10 billion expansion that will almost double the plant’s processing capacity to 600,000 barrels a day. At full rates, the refinery would be able to make 240,000 barrels a day of gasoline and 190,000 barrels of diesel, according to the company.

Motiva is a refining and marketing joint venture of Saudi Refining Inc., a subsidiary of Saudi Arabian Oil Co., and Shell Oil Co., a unit of Royal Dutch Shell Plc.

—With assistance from Barbara Powell in Dallas. Editors: David Marino, Charlotte Porter