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Refinery news roundup: Seasonal US work winds down; Salina Cruz ramps up rates

  • Commodity Oil

Houston — Planned work at US refineries is drawing to a close, with refinery utilization reaching 92.6% of capacity last week as US Gulf Coast plants return to service.

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USGC refinery rates reached 94.4% of capacity for the week ended November 24, according to the Energy Information Administration, up 3.8 percentage points from the week earlier.

Restarts include the crude distillation unit and gasoline-making fluid catalytic cracking unit at Valero's 195,000 b/d McKee refinery in Sunray, Texas.

However, a fire Tuesday in a 110,000 b/d light sweet crude unit at ExxonMobil's 362,300 b/d Beaumont, Texas, refinery will impact current USGC utilization rates. Damage assessment of the unit is underway, with no timeline for restart.

Also on the USGC, Motiva reported excess emissions from its 603,000 b/d Port Arthur, Texas, refinery from the gasoline-making fluid catalytic cracking unit and alkylation unit.

On the US West Coast, Phillips 66 reported flaring at its 259,000 b/d Wilmington plant, part of its Los Angeles, California, refinery. It was unclear what caused the flaring, and the effect on production was unknown, but a company spokesman confirmed there was no planned work at the plant.

Shell said it decided to put off any decision to shut the gasoline-making fluid catalytic cracking unit at its 227,586 b/d Convent, Louisiana, refinery for another few years as gasoline cracks remain healthy.

In Canada, Suncor expects 2018 refinery utilization to range between 90% and 94% of capacity at its four-refinery system, below 2017's expected refinery utilization of 92% to 96%. This is due to a total planned turnaround at the Edmonton, Alberta, plant in 2018. No further dates were given.

This puts Suncor's 2018 refinery throughput in the range of 415,000-435,000 b/d, compared with 425,000-445,000 b/d, the company said in a statement.

In Mexico, state oil company Pemex's 330,000 b/d Salina Cruz refinery is operating at 50%, or at about 165,000 b/d. Operations were restarted at the end of October after repairing damage to the refinery's power plant, due to a series of large earthquakes and aftershocks in September.