LyondellBasell (NYSE:LYB) has started at least two weeks of repairs on the fire-damaged large coker at its 263K bbl/day Houston refinery and has reduced crude processing rates while the unit is shut, Reuters reported on Wednesday.
The refinery will operate at a lower production level while the repairs on the 57K bbl/day 737 coker are under way, although the size of the production cut is not known, according to the report.
Tuesday’s fire reportedly began in a heater on the older of two cokers at the Houston refinery; it is not clear if the recent collapse of a brick wall that was part of the refinery’s insulating refractory was related to the fire.
The fire “shows how fast refining capacity can shrink,” Bloomberg notes, after more than 1M bbl/day of U.S. capacity has been permanently shut over the last three years, causing U.S. refiners to use nearly 94% of their current capacity and still struggle to meet the strong demand for gasoline during the summer driving season.
If one of several major production units, including the cokers, is shut and could not quickly return to production, Lyondell (LYB) reportedly could decide to permanently close the refinery ahead of a December 2023 deadline.
source: Seeking Alpha