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The Port Arthur, Texas Motiva refinery could be shut down for a year; caustic leak caused major damage

Hydrocarbon Engineering,

According to sources contacted by Reuters, the Port Arthur, Texas Motiva Refinery, the largest in the United States could remain shutdown for as long as a year, weeks after the completion of a US$ 10 billion upgrade.

The 325 000 bpd plant was brought to a standstill after a minor leak allowed caustic to enter the crude distillation unit (CDU). As the unit was heated, the caustic was driven through the vital components of the plant, corroding hundreds of meters of steel pipe and damaging heaters.

Experts and engineers have been shipped in en masse in order to begin the repair work with a bill that many expect to be higher than the original US$ 300 million cost of the CDU. The pain of the repairs is likely to be compounded by the fact that much of the 30 in. stainless steel piping that has been damaged was made to order. According to some estimates, every day the plant remains idle costs Motiva approximately US$ 1.5 million.

It is as yet unclear exactly what caused the leak. Neither of the two main contractors, Jacobs Engineering and Bechtel, have commented on the incident.




Edited from various sources by David Bizley

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