Exxon Mobil Corp (XOM.N) is attempting to start the new crude distillation unit (CDU) at its 369,024 barrel-per-day (bpd) Beaumont, Texas, refinery, people familiar with plant operations said on Thursday.
Exxon hopes to put the first oil in the new $2 billion 250,000-bpd CDU C over the weekend in the initial startup of the unit, which will increase the refinery’s capacity by 68% once it is in full operation, the sources said.
Exxon is also repairing a 100,000-bpd vacuum distillation unit (VDU) attached to the 180,000-bpd CDU B at the refinery, the sources said.
An Exxon spokesperson did not have an immediate comment.
Exxon has said it plans to bring CDU C to full production by the end of the first quarter.
This is third scheduled attempt to complete the initial startup of CDU C. The first attempt was postponed and the second prevented by a need to repair a catalytic hydrotreater. Repairs on the hydrotreater are continuing, the sources said.
When CDU C reaches full production, the Beaumont refinery will be at least the second-largest in capacity in the United States.
However, increased production efficiencies on the two CDUs operating at the refinery, plus the possibility CDU C could exceed its nameplate capacity of 250,000 bpd, may make the Beaumont refinery the largest in the nation.
Currently, the 626,000-bpd Motiva Enterprises (MOTIV.UL) refinery in Port Arthur, Texas, is the largest, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.
Exxon built the crude unit to process new crude oil production from the Permian Basin in Texas and New Mexico developed in the past decade.
CDUs operate at atmospheric pressure to break down crude oil into feedstocks for all other units at the refinery. VDUs operate at vacuum pressure to break down residual crude from the CDUs, boosting the yield from a barrel of crude.
Hydrotreaters use hydrogen to remove sulfur from motor fuels and their feedstocks in compliance with U.S. environmental rules.
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