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ExxonMobil Beaumont complex to shut: sources

Houston — ExxonMobil said it has finished the shutdown of the units at its Beaumont, Texas, chemical plant because of flooding, and its 369,024 b/d Beaumont refinery was heard to be preparing to shut Thursday morning, sources said.

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"Word is the refinery is shutting down also," a source familiar with refinery operations said. "Access to the plant is flooding."

The refining complex was heard to be running at "minimal rates" with "minimal personnel" early Thursday, sources told S&P Global Platts.

"ExxonMobil continues preparations for severe weather at its Beaumont complex," company media relations adviser Jeremy Eikenberry said via email Thursday.

"ExxonMobil's Beaumont refinery and chemical complex is conducting a preliminary assessment to determine the impact of the storm. The Beaumont chemical plant has completed a safe and systematic shutdown of its units."

Jet fuel had an early jump Thursday on news of flooding in the Houston area, with the highest bid seen at the NYMEX October ULSD futures contract minus 5.25 cents/gal. S&P Global Platts assessed jet fuel on the Gulf Coast at October futures minus 6.35 cents/gal Wednesday.

Gulf Coast gasoline was also on the rise, with CBOB up 1.9 cents/gal day on day to November futures plus 3 cents/gal in early trading. RBOB was up 40 points day on day to November futures plus 1.75 cents/gal.

"With Beaumont underwater, I'm surprised it's only +300," a gasoline market source said.

The blendstocks and naphtha markets were heard to be stagnant, adopting a wait-and-see approach.

"It's pretty quiet on the blendstocks side. [There is] bidding interest, but USGC market is moving higher," a blendstocks market source said.

Market players expected that there would be an effect on the market.

"It's kind of a big refinery," a second blendstocks market source said.

Elsewhere, Valero's 335,000 b/d Port Arthur refinery was heard to be "monitoring the storm" as of late morning Thursday, adding that "at this time operations continue," company spokeswoman Lillian Riojas said.

The Sabine ship channel closed at 4 am Thursday due to local flooding and heavy rain from Tropical Storm Imelda, according to GAC Shipping newsflash for the Beaumont area. The Sabine-Neches waterway connects Beaumont and Port Arthur to the Gulf of Mexico.

Shipping sources saw no immediate effect on freight Thursday.

Source: Market sources, company spokesman

--Sarah Raslan, sarah.raslan@spglobal.com

--Margaret Rogers, margaret.rogers@spglobal.com

--Janet McGurty, janet.mcgurty@spglobal.com

--Edited by Bill Montgomery, bill.montgomery@spglobal.com