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ExxonMobil close to gaining final approval for Beaumont oil refinery expansion

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Hydrocarbon Engineering,

ExxonMobil is close to obtaining final approval for a major expansion of its Beaumont, Texas, refinery. If the expansion is permitted, it could make the refinery the largest crude processing plant in the US, according to three sources familiar with the company’s deliberations, as reported recently by Reuters.

ExxonMobil has been considering an expansion since at least 2014. The expansion would seem to indicate Exxon’s confidence in US shale production and in global demand for gasoline and other fuels.

Spokeswoman Sarah Nordin said on Wednesday that the company is still deliberating over whether to increase its North American light crude refining: “The Beaumont refinery is being considered as part of that evaluation.”

Last month Chief Executive, Darren Woods, said that Exxon was considering investing US$50 billion in the US over the next five years.

The company has been weighing putting in a third crude distillation unit (CDU) at the 362 300 bpd refinery. Motiva Enterprises’ Port Arthur, Texas, plant is currently the largest and can process, according to the US Energy Information Administration, as much as 635 000 bpd of crude oil.

To surpass Port Arthur, Exxon would have to add the capacity to process another 300 000 bpd and 400 000 bpd.

One of the sources, who declined to be identified because he was not authorised to speak publicly about the deliberations, said the company was still calculating the size of the new CDU.

Exxon has considered the total capacity for an expanded Beaumont refinery at between 700 000 and 850 000 bpd.

A new expansion is expected to capitalise on the growth in US shale production, which is predicted to approximately double US oil output to more than 11 million bpd later this year, from 5.6 million bpd in 2011, according to the EIA.

Nordin said any expansion would take place between 2019 and 2022 within the 2000-acre Beaumont site, where the refinery and an adjoining chemical plant are located to “minimise environmental impact.” Achieving the expansion would “establish it as a leader in the North American refining industry,” she said.

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Downstream news Oil refinery news US refinery news