By Eliot Caroom
Marathon Petroleum Corp. (MPC) plans to acclerate by a year the final phase of a project to increase the size of a hydrocracker at the Garyville refinery, the biggest in Louisiana.
The company now plans to complete the hydrocracker optimization project during a turnaround in October, instead of in October 2014 as previously scheduled, according to a July 18 filing with state regulators. The refinery already planned to shut a crude unit and a coker this October for about 30 days of maintenance, according to a person familiar with the schedule.
The project will increase the size of the unit to 110,000 barrels a day from 90,000, according to a 2011 filing. A hydrocracker uses hydrogen as a catalyst to break down heavy gas oil into higher value products, including diesel fuel that can be exported to South America and Europe.
“We’ve focused primarily on diesel exports at Garyville,” said Donald Templin, Marathon’s chief financial officer, in March at a Raymond James conference. “We think that distillate and export opportunities are very attractive going forward, and so, we wanted to make an investment there.”
Building out: Refineries expanded, but not constructed
Jamal Kheiry, a Marathon spokesman based at the company’s headquarters in Findlay, Ohio, declined by e-mail to comment on the work. The Garyville plant can process 522,000 barrels per calendar day, Kheiry said. The refinery runs primarily heavy, sour crude oils, according to Marathon’s website.
Marathon in another filing asked for an expedited review of a project to install jumpover equipment during the October turnaround that would allow the fluid catalytic cracker to increase its feed rate by 6,000 barrels a day during work on the heavy gasoil hydrotreater.
The company also plans to modify relief valves and other equipment that are limiting rates on a naphtha hydrotreater and a platformer. The company requested an expedited review for the permit, and said work is planned to begin once state regulators approve it.
The work will be completed around the time of a January 2014 turnaround, the company said. The unit can restart in January or February once work is complete.
That project will increase production of platformate, a high-octane gasoline blending component, by 5,300 barrels per day. That may increase gasoline production by the same amount, according to the application.