Extensive Corrosion Found – Port Arthur Refinery

Extensive corrosion, that may require up to five months to repair, has been found inside a new 325,000 barrel per day (bpd) crude distillation unit at a 600,000 bpd Port Arthur, Texas, refinery, according to sources familiar with refinery operations.

The root cause of the corrosion, found in vessels and piping on the crude distillation unit (CDU), has not been determined, the sources said.

Damage from a fire on the CDU during an attempted June 9 restart was seen as negligible, the sources said.

The refinery owner won’t know the full scale of repair work needed until it determines the cause of the corrosion, the sources said.

A representative was not immediately available to discuss refinery operations. On Friday, the owner said there was no timeline for bringing the crude unit back into production.

The unit began refining crude oil in April and was officially commissioned at a May 31 ceremony

This particular refinery’s Port Arthur CDU was built to run heavy, sour crude oil grades that have a high risk of corroding refinery units due to high sulfur content.

“There’s extensive corrosion in the crude unit itself,” one of the sources said. “All of it. Piping, vessels, all of it. It could take up to five months to fix. It will be several months.”

The CDU, which does the initial refining of crude oil coming into the refinery and provides the feedstock for all other refining units, is the centerpiece of a $10-billion, 5-year project to expand the refinery to be the nation’s largest.

At the time, the CDU was shut down it was three weeks away from reaching full production, a refinery owner executive had said.

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