Gulf Coast Storm Update
USGC refiners, petchems shut down as Laura approaches
17:02 PM | August 25, 2020 | Clay Boswell
US Gulf Coast refiners and petrochemical producers are battening down the hatches in preparation for Hurricane Laura, which is forecast to make landfall near the Texas-Louisiana border Wednesday night or Thursday (map).
The National Hurricane Center has declared a hurricane watch for the stretch of coast extending from San Luis Pass, Texas, just south of Houston, to Intracoastal City, Louisiana, east of Lake Charles, a region that includes almost 70% of US olefins production capacity.
Several chemical producers are shutting down in advance of the hurricane, according to air emission event reports submitted to the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ). CPChem intends to shut down its Pasadena plastics complex, where the company has about 1 million metric tons/year (MMt/y) of polyethylene capacity. Motiva Chemicals is shutting down its steam cracker at Port Arthur, which has 0.7 MMt/y of ethylene capacity and 0.2 MMt/y of polymer-grade propylene (PGP) capacity. INEOS is shutting down its Olefins 1 steam cracker at Chocolate Bayou, which has 0.9 MMt/y of ethylene capacity and 0.3 MMt/y of PGP capacity.
In Lake Charles, there are approximately 850,000 b/d of refining capacity. On Tuesday, Phillips 66 said it is shutting down its Lake Charles complex, which includes a 273,000 b/d refinery. CITGO confirmed that it is shutting down its 440,000-b/d refinery in Lake Charles.
Port Arthur-Beaumont, Texas, has more than 1.6 million b/d of refining capacity. OPIS reported on Monday that Motiva has filed a shutdown report with the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality for its 607,000-b/d refinery as well as its chemical plant. Total’s 225,000-b/d Port Arthur facility was reportedly reducing runs to minimum levels.
ExxonMobil said it was preparing for severe weather at its 384,400-b/d Beaumont refinery, but as of late Monday afternoon the company said operations were normal. Market sources say Valero’s 415,000-b/d Port Arthur refinery is also shutting down, but the company has not yet offered confirmation. Calcasieu has idled its 137,000-b/d refinery.
Tuesday the Port of Houston said it expects to be fully closed Wednesday and possibly Thursday, depending on the storm track.