Exxon Baton Rouge refinery shuts CDU due to flooding: sources

Reuters News
Posted: Aug 17, 2016 12:40 AM

HOUSTON (Reuters) - ExxonMobil Corp shut a crude distillation unit at its 502,500 barrel per day (bpd) Baton Rouge refinery on Tuesday as flooding disrupted operations at a liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) storage facility, sources familiar with plant operations said.

An Exxon spokeswoman declined on Tuesday to discuss operations at the Baton Rouge, Louisiana refinery.

"We continue to meet our contractual commitments," said Exxon's Lana Venable.

Continued disruption of operations at the Sorrento, Louisiana Storage Facility by the floods could force Exxon to further cut production at the Baton Rouge refinery due lack of storage for LPG produced by the refinery, the sources said.

Exxon shut the 90,000 bpd CDU on Tuesday, according to energy industry intelligence service Genscape.

Two of the four CDUs at the refinery have a 90,000-bpd capacity. Neither Genscape nor the sources identified which CDU was shut.

The Sorrento Storage Facility receives LPG from the Baton Rouge refinery and stores gases like butane and propane in underground salt dome caverns, according to documents Exxon has filed with the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality.

When LPG is pumped into the storage caverns, salt brine is pumped into surface pits. LPG is pumped out of the caverns by reinjecting the brine back underground.

It was unclear how the floods across Ascension Parish where Sorrento is located have disrupted operations at the storage facility.

Until Tuesday, the deadly floods had not directly affected production at the refineries where flooding is most severe.

Motiva Enterprises [MOTIV.UL] 235,000 bpd Convent, Louisiana refinery reduced staffing to essential personnel, sources familiar with Motiva operations said on Tuesday.

Multiple roadways near the refinery are impassable due to the floods and the homes of employees have been inundated.

Motiva will likely use only essential personnel at the Convent refinery until early next week.

A Motiva spokeswoman said on Tuesday operations at the Convent refinery and Motiva's 237,700 bpd refinery in Norco, Louisiana were stable.

Production has been cut at the Convent refinery because a fire on Thursday damaged the refinery's 45,000 bpd heavy oil hydrocracker, forcing Motiva to shut the unit down.

A CDU does the initial refining of crude oil coming into a refinery and supplies feedstock to all other production unit.

(Reporting by Erwin Seba; Editing by Kim Coghill and Sunil Nair)