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Downstream news update: 23 December 2014

Hydrocarbon Engineering,



A malfunction that led to a spectacular flare at the Chevron Richmond refinery last Thursday originated in the solvent deasphalting unit. This is the part of the refinery that receives the heaviest material, or fraction, left over the crude oil distillation process, and then treats it with solvents to help break it down further into components like lube oil, fuel oil and tar.

The malfunction caused some of the tarry material to flow into pipes routed through a cooling unit. That caused the material to solidify, plugging up the pipes. Pressure built up, triggering safety devices that relieved that pressure by venting and burning off gases.


Sasol has announced the completion of a US$4 billion credit facility for its ethane cracker and derivatives at its existing site in Lake Charles, Louisiana.

Paul Victor, Acting Chief Financial Officer, Sasol Limited, said: “Securing this financing facility is another key milestone in advancing a defining project for the company. The support from a large number of international financial institutions is a testament to Sasol’s strong standing within the global financial markets”.

A syndicate of 18 international banks and other financial institutions are lenders for the credit facility.

Virgin Islands

The mothballed refinery on St. Croix will stay closed after the US Virgin Island’s Legislature voted overwhelmingly against letting a new owner take over the plant.

Atlantic Basin Refining Inc. had hoped to revive the refinery, saying it could run the plant efficiently on light, sweet oil pumped in the US.


Yokogawa Electric Corporation has announced that its subsidiary, Yokogawa China, has received an order from PetroChina Yunnan Petrochemical to deliver control systems for an oil refinery that is being built in China’s Yunnan Province.

With an annual output of 10 million t, this will be one of the largest refineries in south western China.


Idemitsu Kosan Co., Japan’s third largest refiner by capacity, and Showa Shell Sekiyu KK, the fifth ranked, are holding talks, the companies said in separate statements 20 December.

Domestic demand for fuels has declined amid shrinking population and a shift to more energy efficient cars, prompting Japan’s government to encourage consolidation and a reduction in processing capacity. Adding Showa Shell’s operations would give Idemitsu control of approximately 30% of the domestic gasoline market. The two companies have also 15 000 employees.


Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev has ordered the Ministry for Energy, Ministry for Environment and the Ministry for Industry and Trade to study construction of oil refineries in the North Caucasian Federal District at a meeting of the governmental commission on socio-economic development of the North Caucasus on 12 December.


Vietnam’s Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung has given the go ahead to the project to upgrade and expand Dung Quat Oil refinery in central Vietnam.

The basic contents of the project cover the upgrades in processing capacity, crude oil sources, configuration and technology, product quality, environmental standards, progress and expected total investments.

Edited from various sources by Emma McAleavey.

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