By Dan Wallach
The expanded Motiva Port Arthur Refinery has reached its full operating capacity of 600,000 barrels of crude processing nearly eight months after a new unit suffered internal damage, causing a major disruption in the $10 billion expansion project.
A Shell Oil Co. spokeswoman said Wednesday Motiva is running at planned rates, making it the largest refinery in the United States. “We have been safely and steadily ramping up the unit for several weeks,” Shell spokeswoman Kayla Macke said. “We have continuously monitored the unit’s progress and have achieved satisfactory results.”
Shell is part owner of Motiva along with the national Saudi Arabian oil company.
In early June 2012, about a week after the formal commissioning of the expansion project, which essentially built a new refinery within an existing and continually operating refinery, a small fire caused a stream of crude oil into a processing unit to shut down. However, another stream of a caustic chemical that helps to break down the crude oil for refining did not shut down. As the caustic was heated and vaporized, cracks in welds formed.
After assessment and repairs, Motiva began to bring the new units back into operation.